Cedevita Zagreb defeated Gran Canaria, 86-89 on Tuesday night at the Centro Insular de Deportes in a game that pulled the winners to second place in Group I with a 2-2 record. Cedevita is now in position to qualify for the quarterfinals with a win over Hemofarm Stada next week, while Gran Canaria faces an uphill battle at 1-3. Cedevita’s win seemed to emulate the Week 3 overtime thriller in which they also defeated Gran Canaria, when the two teams combined for a Eurocup record with 34 triples. This time around, the three-point total stayed at a still impressive 28, but the result was the same: a win for Cedevita. The heroes were similar too, as Last 16 Week 3 MVP Damjan Rudez logged 23 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting. Bracey Wright was equally impressive with 23 points on 5-of-6 from beyond the arc but, most notably, clutch scoring down the stretch. Corsley Edwards, Dontaye Draper and Vedran Vukusic all added 11 points each for the winners. Edwards also corralled 11 rebounds. Gran Canaria had a good chance to win it with a late 84-82 advantage, but could not prevent a dagger three from Wright in the last minute of play. Guard Jaycee Carroll led all scorers with 27 points for Granca, but only converted 1 of 5 three-point attempts. Xavi Rey added 15 points, Taurean Green notched 14 to go with 6 assists, and CJ Wallace tallied 10 points. Gran Canaria will host Kazan next week, while Cedevita plays host to Hemofarm Stada.
Wright showed good range early with a triple, but was mostly kept under control in the beginning of the first quarter by the Gran Canaria defense. While the hosts went to high-scoring Carroll early and often, Rudez’s first field goal was a dunk that made it 6-12 for the visitors. Gran Canaria was able to answer right back with Green and Wallace’s marksmanship from the three-point line, but as the pace quickened and offenses opened up, Rudez found his shooting touch from long range as well. The forward made it 18-24 on a triple, en route to 10-first-quarter points, leading his team to a 24-28 advantage. Gran Canaria seemed to refocus during the break and entered the second quarter with the emphasis set on defense, holding Cedevita to lower-percentage shots and preventing Edwards from establishing a rhythm in the halfcourt game. The hosts’ press harassed the visiting team into ill-advised turnovers too many times, as Green capitalized on his perimeter looks and Rey started to get going in the paint, scoring 6 straight points to close in at 36-40. Gran Canaria was finally able to pull ahead 44-42 on consecutive triples by Carroll and Spencer Nelson. Still, Cedevita stayed in it thanks to good perimeter shooting, and the half was reached at a 44-44 standstill.
Vukusic wasted no time giving Cedevita the edge with a three-point bomb to start the second half and Wright followed suit as the visitors were back up with a 46-50 score. Gran Canaria opted to attack the rim with Green and Carroll layups and quickly flip-flopped it back to 51-50 when Rey split a pair of free throws. Defending hands seemed to matter little to Rudez, Marino Bazdaric and Wright, as the trio hit again from beyond the arc to fuel a 2-11 run by Cedevita that left Petrovic’s crew up 53-61. The last two minutes of the quarter were quite an offensive showdown that could have been mistaken as a three-point contest that had Jim Moran and Wallace trading threes with Rudez, who finished the quarter with 5-of-6 made and 21 points. With a quarter to go, it was 61-67. Rudez scored his team’s first basket in the final quarter and assisted when Draper made another triple that put the visitors up 6. Cedevita looked to Edwards in the paint, and the center finally entered the double-digit scoring club with a layup before Gran Canaria sealed the lane and offenses seemed to slow down some midway through the quarter. The drought ended abruptly for the visitors though, as Vedran Princ and Draper again swished deep shots that kept Petrovic’s crew in the driver’s seat, up 71-80 with four minutes to go. The hosts then gritted their teeth on defense and willed themselves to the line again and again, until a Michael Bramos triple put them back on top, 84-82, with under a minute to go. With Cedevita on its heels, Draper came to the rescue with a jumper that tied it and a steal in the final minute to set up the game‘s 28th three-pointer by clutch-scorer Wright: 84-87 with only a few ticks left. Again, Carroll was able to force and convert a couple of foul shots, but Wright kept as cool as ice on his ensuing trip to the line, effectively sealing the game and gift-wrapping another instant classic in the process.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011