Caprabo Lleida down Krka Novo Mesto 91-86
The quarterfinals between Caprabo Lleida and Krka Novo Mesto started with a 91-86 win for the Spaniards in a game that saw many sides. First both teams were rather balanced in the first half, but Lleida appeared in the third quarter with a 14-0 run that seemed to break the game open. Nevertheless, the Slovenian team never surrendered, and the great contribution from Jamie Arnold helped them to come back into the game in the last minutes of the third quarter and the first minutes of the fourth, cutting the deficit to the final 5 points it will have to make up next week in Krka. Berni Alvarez led the winners with 20 points including 6 of 7 threes. A.J. Bramlett added 19, Jaume Comas bagged 14, Sergio Ramos 12 and Johnny Rogers 10. For Krka, Arnold paced with 29 points, Slavko Duscak added 15 and Aleksandar Capin nailed 13.
After a rather cold start for both sides, the score was only 1-2, but Aleksandar Capin had already committed his second foul in minute 2. Jamie Arnold soon emerged as the main offensive figure for Krka, but at the same time, A.J. Bramlett found no rival in Krka's lane and lifted his team to 8-4 after a three-point play. Boris Gnjidic was also called for his second foul, but Krka wasn't impressed with Lleida's push and the guests made a 0-8 run thanks to Slavko Duscak from the arc for an 8-12. Both defenses improved throughout the quarter but Bramlett was still taking advantage of his supriority in the paint. Two consecutive steals by Roger Grimau allowed the hosts to lead by 1 after 10 minutes, 20-19. In the second quarter, Krka put itself together and soon managed to jump into the lead, but never got further ahead than 5 points. The guests had scored 15 of their 37 points from beyond the arc (34-37) and that hurt Lleida too much. The duo formed by Duscak (10 points) and Arnold (12) was the main device of Krka on offense, but a three by Berni Alvarez tied the game again, 39-39. Four straight points by Sergio Ramos allowed Lleida to pull within 43-44 at the break.
The second half started well for the Spanish team, which through steals and Alvarez's three-pointers managed to forge a 14-0 run for 57-44 lead that seemed to break the game open. But that was not the case, as Krka emerged again, exploiting its superiority in one-on-one situations. After Alvarez scored his fourth triple of the quarter, however, Lleida's lead stood at 64-52. Then the Slovenian avalanche fell on Lleida. Capin's 4 straight points and Duscak's jumper on the buzzer culminated a 1-12 run for the guests for 65-64 after 30 minutes. The last quarter started with three-pointers for both sides, as Alvarez scored his sixth without mistake for 71-67. Another triple by Jure Balazic put Krka ahead 71-72. Arnold improved again after a rather quiet spell, as both teams took turns in the lead with 4 minutes to go. The guests moved the ball well and hit the triples that hurt the Spaniards. Arnold hit once more his trademark reverse and hook for his 29th point and 86-84 with less than 2 minutes to go. But Jaume Comas in the last seconds of the game, first with a triple and later with a layup, gave Lleida a five-point lead to defend in the second game at Novo Mesto, 91-86.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003