Justin Cobbs was the hero for Buducnost VOLI Podgorica in Wednesday's road win at ratiopharm Ulm in the teams’ 7DAYS EuroCup season opener. Despite enjoying a 19-point advantage midway through the third quarter, the home team rallied to within 79-82 in crunch time after a 10-0 run that sent the game to the wire.
With the game suddenly in doubt, the guard made a key pull-up mid-range jumper with 33 seconds remaining that aborted Ulm's rally and allowed the Montenegrin champs to escape with a 79-86 victory.
“I think [the decisive moment] was the end of the game. We got a big lead in the beginning and we kind of let it slip away, but we locked it down in the end,” said Cobbs right after the game.
His last bucket was good enough to secure the victory, but to be fair there were many other things Cobbs provided the team in Ulm. He finished with 18 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists for a team-high PIR of 23.
In addition, Cobbs supported Buducnost when Ulm showed amazing accuracy from downtown, going for 5 three-pointers in 7 minutes to grab a 19-15 lead in the first quarter. Cobbs scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes, helping the visitors overcome Ulm's strong start to gain a 19-26 edge at the end of the quarter.
He added a free throw later in the second quarter before burying a buzzer-beating three-pointer to send the game to the locker rooms with the visitors leading 41-48 at halftime.
Cobbs found timely help from his teammates later. First, it came from inside, as Jacob Wiley and Willie Reed took over right after the break. They combined for 14 points in a 4-16 opening run that created a 19-point wedge midway through the third quarter. Wiley and Reed were key contributors in Buducnost's dominance under the glass, which provided 19 second-chance points off 15 offensive boards.
But the hosts were going to need some more power to defeat Ulm, whose heroic reaction led by reserves Thomas Klepeisz and Christoph Phillip bridging the third and the fourth quarters allowed the hosts to climb within 63-71.
Then it was when DJ Seeley who took charge for Buducnost. First, he nailed a tough jumper before hitting from downtown to recover a double-digit margin. Then, he drew a couple of fouls that turned into free throws to put Buducnost in charge 69-81 with 4 minutes to go. His 8 points in a row were quite helpful to give his team a cushion that it used when Ulm tried for the last time.
Even when Ulm got within 79-82, Buducnost kept calm. As head coach Aleksandar Dzikic said: "It’s not unexpected because... we know that they would keep on fighting and especially with their second group they were aggressive, they covered the full court, they organized a little bit better, so it was normal.”
He probably also expected some answers from his key players, like the one Cobbs provided in the last minute.
“In the end, we managed to do what we needed to do, we [made] some stops and locked it down”, Cobbs explained.
He did what he needed to do and what he did allowed Buducnost enjoy a great 7DAYS EuroCup opening night.