Things did not look good for Buducnost VOLI Podgorica at the end of the third quarter in its Round 9 showdown against Frutti Extra Bursaspor. Bursaspor was dominating almost all aspects of the game and held a 15-point lead, 58-73, after 30 minutes. Buducnost was without star guard Justin Cobbs, who was called for two technical fouls soon after halftime and was now sitting in the locker room.
It looks like it was a matter of time before Bursaspor sealed the outcome, but Buducnost decided to fight back and its hard effort paid off in one of the most exciting finishes in the 7DAYS EuroCup this season.
Buducnost needed a go-to guy and found one in Vladimir Micov, who caught fire early in the fourth quarter. Micov scored 3 inside baskets and hit 3 of 3 free throws for 9 points in an 11-0 run that brought his team back to life, 69-75. Even so, David Dudzinski stepped up big for the guests, who kept a 75-80 margin with under 3 minutes remaining.
With Cobbs out of the game, the Montenegrin powerhouse needed a little extra help from its guards. Petar Popovic, one of the youngest team captains in competition history, provided the spark Buducnost needed. He banked in a running shot and soon added a critical three-pointer from the left wing to tie the game, 80-80, with more than a minute still remaining.
Bursaspor was not done and Allerik Freeman took over with a wild driving layup that gave his team an 80-82 lead with 11.1 seconds left. Buducnost called timeout and looked for D.J. Seeley who attacked the basket and hit a big shot off a spin move. He was fouled and calmly made his free throw attempt, giving Buducnost its first lead of the game since 6-3.
Down 83-82, Bursaspor called timeout to prepare its final offense with 4.2 seconds left. It was a well-executed play but Willie Reed took Freeman one-on-one and blocked his mid-range shot from the baseline at the buzzer to let Buducnost celebrate an outstanding comeback win. Reed finished the game with 18 points on 7-for-12 two-point and 4-for-4 free-throw shooting plus 12 rebounds to record his first double-double of the season.
"We put ourselves in a hole coming out in the third quarter but we found a way to will ourselves to a W with some defensive stops late in the fourth quarter and we played Buducnost basketball," Reed said after the game. "We always believe, every game we step on the floor, that we can win no matter how many points we are down. We just have that much trust in each other to be able to win games."
Resilience, determination and intensity allowed Buducnost to win the game. The Montenegrin powerhouse outrebounded Bursaspor 44-25. Buducnost pulled down 17 offensive rebounds and to just 5 for Bursaspor. At the end of the game, head coach Aleksandar Dzikic pointed out the importance of this win and how it happened.
"We were deep down, deep down. We came back and, on top of everything, without Cobbs in the end. Congrats to the guys, they did a great job," Dzikic said. "This is very important for us. If Bursaspor had beat us, they would have deserved it, obviously, but we found a way to win. This is so big for us I can't explain."
Buducnost reached the Regular Season's halfway mark with a 7-2 record in Group B. Four of those wins came by 4 points or less, which could be an important factor when more important showdowns take place.