Neptunas holds off Nizhny, clinches Last 32 berth
Neptunas Klaipeda punched its ticket for the Last 32 with 82-75 win over the visiting Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday. Neptunas swept regular season series against Nizhny and improved to 6-3 in the second place of Group F, while already-qualified Nizhny Novgorod dropped to 5-4. Harvey Grant paced the hosts with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Daniel Ewing and Martynas Mazeika scored 11 apiece, while Donatas Zavackas chipped in with 10 first quarter points in victory. Rasid Mahalbasic had 19 points and 7 rebounds while Victor Rudd collected 13 points, 7 boards, 4 assists and 3 steals for Nizhny. Evgeny Baburin netted 12 and Dimitriy Khvostov 10 points in defeat.
Zavackas got the hosts going, scoring 10 of team's first 12 points. Consecutive baskets from Mahalbasic did help Nizhny to 9-11, but Zavackas' second triple sparked a 13-0 run, during which Neptunas held the visitors scoreless for almost five minutes, and opened 22-11 lead. Semen Antonov hit a triple for the visitors to end first quarter, and Nizhny's drought, before Mahalbasic and Baburin got the visitors within 26-22 early in the second. Baburin's triple made it 29-27, before Kaspars Bezins and Khvostov added baskets of their own. But Mazeika, Ewing and Grant kept the hosts ahead, as they went in to the break up 43-37.
In the third, Ewing helped extend it to 47-39, but Khvostov hit from downtown and Mahalbasic scored twice from close range to halve the deficit, 50-46. Mazeika and Gilvydas Biruta kept Neptunas with the lead, but Baburin hit a pair of three-pointers that kept Nizhny close, 56-52. However, 6 consecutive points from previously scoreless Mindaugas Girdziunas and a basket from Ewing to end the quarter, gave the hosts 65-55 going into the final 10 minutes. Grant and Ewing extended it to 70-57, but Vladimir Ivlev and Mahalbasic started a Nizhny run that Rudd capped with seven straight points, including a three-pointer that got the visitors within 72-70. After a timeout, Arnas Butkevicius gave the hosts some breathing room, but Ivan Strebkov nailed a triple in the other end, Nizhny's tenth of the night, making it 74-73 with 2 minutes to go. However, Ewing's fastbreak basket kept Neptunas in control, before Grant’s three-point play with 19 seconds to go sealed the deal.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015