In the first game of the Eurocup Quarterfinals on Tuesday, ratiopharm Ulm continued its solid run in the competition by coming from behind to beat two-time semifinalist Uxue Bilbao Basket 85-81 in the first game of their two-way series. When they meet again a week from now in Bilbao, Spain, a victory or a loss by up to 3 points will be enough for Ulm to advance to the semifinals. John Bryant first-half scoring binge of 23 points got Ulm back in the game after it trailed 18-30 through one quarter. Ulm rallied after halftime and eventually led by 12 points with 2 minutes left, 85-73, before Bilbao scored the game's last 8 points. Bryant finished with 30 points on 10-for-15 two-point shooting while Allan Ray added 13, Per Guenther and Keaton Nankivil 10 each for the winners. Kostas Vasiliadis led Bilbao with 21 points, 19 of those at halftime. Axel Hervelle, Alex Mumbru and Lamont Hamilton added 13 points each and Nikos Zisis 11 for Bilbao.
Vasiliadis buried the game's first jumper and Mumbru put down transition lob for Bilbao, but soon Philipp Schwethelm hit a second-chance triple, Bryant a reverse layup and Daniel Theis a three-point play as Ulm took an 8-4 advantage. Back and forth they went as Zisis and Mumbru put Bilbao back in front, but Bryant's next two baskets tied it, 12-12. Another tie at 16-16 came on a dunk by Bryant, up to 8 points already, although Vasiliadis buried 3 free throws to keep Bilbao ahead. When Mumbru and Vasiliadis both drilled triples, it was suddenly 16-25 for Bilbao. Vasiliadis wasn't done as Ulm fell asleep on another inbounds play and he punished the hosts with another triple as Bilbao cruised to an 18-30 lead after 10 minutes.
Bryant resumed Ulm's scoring to open the second quarter, but Hamilton kept Bilbao's lead in double digits, 36-26. Bryant would not be denied, however, as he dropped a short jumper then turned on Hamilton for a three-point play that gave him 21 points already and brought Ulm within 31-36. When Nankivil dropped his first shot, from the arc, it was suddenly 34-36. After a Bilbao timeout, Bryant's blocked shot sent Guenther on a fastbreak for a 36-36 tie. Vasiliadis broke it with his third triple, but then committed an unsportsmanlike foul that let Ulm get within 38-39. Zisis and Guenther traded transition baskets before Vasiliadis struck again from the arc. It was all Ulm could do, on a step-back shot with 3 seconds left by Guenther, to get within 42-45 at halftime.
Zisis opened the second half with a basket, but Bryant bettered him with a transition triple before Guenther fed Schwethelm to tie it up 47-47. When Bryant buried the next shot from the arc, it was Ulm enjoying its first lead since early in the game, 47-50, as its center had 29 points in 20 minutes. The Ulm crowd was on its feet now, but Bryant drew his third foul and sat down. Mumbru tied it up 50-50 on a basket-plus-free throw. Ulm struggled to score and Roger Grimau's save to Fran Pilepic for a layup put Bilbao back in front. Schwethelm tied it again from the foul line before Pilepic nailed a three-point shot and a layup to put Bilbao in front 52-57. Steven Esterkamp got 3 points back on one shot for Ulm and Nankivil's 2 free throws forged another tie, 57-57. Bryant came in for the final minute of the third quarter to make 1 of 2 free throws before feeding Ray's layup left Ulm ahead 60-58 after 30 minutes.
Ray opened the fourth quarter with a jump shot and Lance Jeter made a fastbreak layup-plus-free throw for Ulm's biggest lead yet, 65-58. When Jeter saved a possession with a banked-in triple then fed Sebastian Betz for another, it was suddenly 71-60. Hamilton scored off a Bilbao timeout, but Ulm answered with Bryant feeding Ray for a layup. When Ray stuck a three-pointer late in another possession, Ulm led 76-64. Hervelle finished a fastbreak and rolled in a three-pointer in transition to cut the difference to 76-71 before Ray responded for Ulm. Nankivil drove for a dunk and then stepped out for a triple to restore Ulm's biggest lead at 83-71 with under 3 minutes left. Vasiliadis took 2 free throws off the difference, but Guenther took them back. Hamilton responded with a triple for Bilbao, then stole and tomahawked a dunk, forcing an Ulm timeout. Hamilton then fed Hervelle in the corner and suddenly it was 85-80. With 5 seconds left, Zisis cut it by another point at the foul line as Bilbao made sure to give itself the best chance for revenge at home next week.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013