Cole, Bitadze lead Buducnost to another win
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica registered its third consecutive win by downing guest Herbalife Gran Canaria 75-70 in the Montenegrin capital on Friday. Both teams now have 6-14 records, but Gran Canaria ranks 14th and Buducnost 15th as the Spanish side won by their first game by a bigger margin of 10 points. Norris Cole led the winners with 20 points. Goga Bitadze added 16 while Edwin Jakcson and Earl Clark each had 10 for Buducnost. Siim-Sander Vene led Gran Canaria with 16 points. Anzejs Pasecniks and Xavi Rabaseda each had 12 for the guests. The game was balanced for 35 minutes but Cole and Bitadze stepped up in crunch time to lead Buducnost to another home win.
Bitadze got Buducnost going with free throws and Clark added a triple but Rabaseda answered to tie 5-5. Cole appeared with a three-point play, a fastbreak dunk and a bomb from downtown to give Buducnost a 15-10 lead. Pasecniks stepped up with a put-back layup that Earl Clark matched with a floater. Eulis Baez and Jackson exchanged three-pointers and Vene hit his own pair from beyond the arc to get Gran Canaria within 23-21. Josh Magette hit a triple but Cole followed a driving layup with a buzzer-beating jumper for a 27-24 Buducnost edge after 10 minutes. Ondrej Balvin dunked early in the second quarter for Gran Canaria and James Bell responded with a mid-range jumper. Marcus Eriksson struck from way downtown before a tip-in by Pasecniks restored a 29-31 Gran Canaria edge. Coty Clarke and Filip Barovic hit foul shots but a three-pointer by Albert Oliver made the guests regain the lead, 33-34. Bell answered with a put-back basket, then Balvin followed a dunk with an alley-oop layup for a 36-38 Gran Canaria margin at halftime. Rabaseda dunked and Oliver scored a layup soon after the break to give the guests a 38-42 margin. Suad Sehovic and Rabaseda traded three-pointers before free throws by Bitadze kept Buducnost within 43-45. Cole hit a floater and Jackson struck from downtown to make Gran Canaria call timeout at 48-45. Bitadze dunked but free throws by Pasecniks and a triple by Vene tied it at 50-50. Sehovic answered from downtown and Bitadze added a layup and a put-back slam to put Buducnost back in charge, 57-52. Vene followed a triple with a jumper but Jackson and Cole restored a 61-57 Buducnost lead after 30 minutes. Bitadze ignited the crowd with another dunk early in the fourth quarter, although Pasecniks and Vene kept Gran Canaria within 63-61. Bitadze and Cole upped the lead to 66-61 with 5:55 left. Balvin hit free throws but Cole erased it with a jumper and Clark added a three-pointer that broke the game open, 71-63, with under 3 minutes left. Gran Canaria did not recover, as Buducnost's fans were soon celebrating a big victory.
Bitadze dominated in the paint, finishing the game with 16 points on 5-of-7 two-point and 6-of-7 free throw shooting. He added 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks and 4 fouls drawn for a game-high PIR of 27. The 19-year-old center keeps impressing everyone in his first EuroLeague season.
Gran Canaria was in the game for 35 minutes, trailing by just 63-61. Bitadze dunked, Cole downed a catch-and-shoot jumper, and Clark buried a three-pointer, all of which sent Buducnost up by 71-63 lead with barely 2 minutes left. Gran Canaria never recovered.
Buducnost protected the paint really well, forcing Gran Canaria into 14-of-34 two-point shooting (41.2%) and pulling down 30 defensive rebounds, the latter a new season high for the hosts.
Did you notice?
Gran Canaria took more shots outside (35) than inside the arc (34). Those 35 three-point attempts is a new EuroLeague club record for Gran Canaria and ties for the fourth-highest mark in the 2018-19 EuroLeague. Khimki Moscow Region tried 39 three-point shots twice this season.
Next Friday, February 1, Buducnost visits CSKA Moscow early in the evening and Gran Canaria hosts the last game of Round 21 against AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan.
Friday, January 25, 2019