Iurbentia Bilbao Basket advanced to semifinals by downing Zadar 76-67
Iurbentia Bilbao Basket kept beating the expectations in its European club competitions debut season and advanced to the Eurocup semifinals by downing Zadar 76-67 in the fourth and final quarterfinals showdown at Palasport Olimpico in Turin, Italy on Friday night. As such, Bilbao kept its title dreams alive and is now ready to face BC Khimki Moscow region in the semifinals tomorrow. Meanwhile, Zadar had a bitter end to an otherwise fantastic Eurocup season. Janis Blums led the winners with 21 points. Drago Pasalic added 12 while Javi Salgado had 10 for Bilbao, that made 31-for-36 free throws tonight. Hrvoje Peric led Zadar with 17 points while Desmon Farmer added 11. Blums and Paco Vazquez fueled a 12-0 opening run that allowed Bilbao to dominate the game in the first half. Free throws by Salgado and Drago Pasalic made it a 13-point game, 24-11, at the end of the first quarter. Peric and Farmer tried to change things midway through the second quarter, getting Zadar within 35-29 late in this period. Three-pointers by Blums and Salva Guardia boosted their team's lead to 47-32 immediately after the break. Tomislav Ruzic an Peric led a 2-15 Zadar run to bring his team back to life, 51-49. A wild triple by Damir Rancic tied it at 53-53 after 30 minutes. A 10-0 run put Bilbao ahead for good, 65-55, and even when Zadar managed to get within 71-67, free throws by Salgado and a big basket by Quincy Lewis sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Janis Blums beat Zadar's zone defense with a three-pointer and soon tacked on a driving layup for a quick 5-0 Bilbao lead. Seibutis added a five-meter jumper to the Bilbao lead as Zadar kept struggling to score and Paco Vazquez buried his trademark corner triple to make it 10-0. Zadar head coach Zmago Sagadin called a much-needed timeout to readjust his team's offense while free throws by Seibutis capped Bilbao's 12-0 opening run. Zadar had gone almost 5 minutes, missing 4 shots and committed 3 turnovers until Desmon Farmer stepped up with a driving layup and a free throw to get his team on the board. Gecevski soon struck from downtown to bring Zadar back to life at 12-6, but soon Salva Guardia and Damir Markota scored in close as Bilbao restored a big margin, 16-7. Javi Salgado banked in a stop-and-pop jumper, as Bilbao kept limiting Zadar to one tough shot, and when Quincy Lewis added free throws, it was a 13-point game, 20-7. Tomislav Ruzic tried to change things with a layup and Hrvoje Peric added a turnaround jumper for Zadar, but free throws by Salgado and Drago Pasalic kept Bilbao way ahead, 24-11, after 10 minutes.
Farmer took over with a driving layup right at the start of the second quarter, as Zadar played with even more intensity at both ends now. Drago Pasalic dunked in response for Bilbao, but Gecevski nailed another triple to get his team within 26-16. Jere Macura got the Zadar fans involved with a two-handed dunk, as Bilbao could not find the way to the basket now. Pasalic corrected that problem soon, however, with a layup, after which Blums drove for a basket to regain a double-digit margin, 30-19, for Bilbao. Hrvoje Peric took over with a big slam while free throws by Farmer kept Zadar in the game, 30-23. Seibutis sank free throws, but a now-unstoppable Farmer matched them with a power layup. Seibutis stepped up with a driving basket that Damir Markota followed with a free throw on Gecevski's third foul. Damir Rancic sank a jumper and Peric followed him with an outstanding put-back dunk as Zadar pulled within 35-29. Paco Vazquez shined with a driving layup that Rok Stipcevic erased with free throws - his first points tonight - but subsequent foul shots by Vazquez kept Bilbao in charge, 39-31, at halftime.
Just as at the start of the game, Blums struck from downtown in Bilbao's first offense after the break. Banic soon added a second-chance basket while a corner triple by Guardia broke the game open, 47-32. Or, so it seemed. Farmer tried to change things with a driving layup but Blums answered with an acrobatic basket. Peric stepped up next for Zadar, making a long two-pointer for a 49-36 scoreboard. Zadar tightened its defense midway through the third quarter, while free throws by Ruzic and a reverse layup by Juby Johnson brought the difference down to single digits again, 49-40. Bilbao could not find the way to the basket while a baseline jumper by Ruzic capped a 0-8 run and brought Zadar back to life, 49-42. Pasalic rescued Bilbao with free throws but Peric matched that with a power layup. Ruzic scored in transition Peric downed a triple from the left wing off a Bilbao timeout to make it a two-point game, 51-49. Zadar's game-long comeback was complete when an incredible, second-chance, buzzer-beating triple by Damir Rancic tied it up, 53-53, after three quarters.
The game turned into a physical battle early in the fourth quarter and Bilbao made the most out of it. Blums and Rancic traded free throws while more foul shots by Pasalic gave Bilbao a 57-55 edge. Guardia provided a highlight - and sent Bilbao fans to their feet - with an off-balance put-back layup - and the free throw that came with it. Gecevski fouled out with 7 minutes to go while Guardia fed Blums for an open triple. Rancic fouled out soon after that, while a foul shot by Blums capped a go-ahead 10-0 Bilbao run, good for a 65-55 score. Stipcevic tried to change things with a three-pointer while Johnson added a wild driving layup over two defenders for a 65-60 Zadar deficit. Blums scored in transition but Banic fouled out immediately after that. Peric provided an outstanding highlight with a dunk-and-foul over Lewis to get Zadar even closer, 67-64, with under 4 minutes remaining. Salgado made 4-for-4 free throws but Gecevski kept Zadar in the game with a three-point play, 71-67, with 2:52 remaining. Stipcevic fouled out and Salgado sank more foul shots while an off-balance layup by Lewis sealed the outcome, 75-67. Zadar did not recover, allowing all Bilbao fans to celebrate that their Eurocup season is far from being over!
Friday, April 3, 2009