Strelnieks free throws lift Budivelnik over Zvezda
In the opening game of the Eurocup Quarterfinals, Budivelnik Kiev edged Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 82-79 on Tuesday night in Kaunas, Lithuania. The second leg will be played next week in Belgrade, Serbia, and the team with the highest aggregate scored will advance, which means that a victory or a loss by up to 2 points will be enough for Budivelnik to return to the semifinals. The Ukrainian champ led for majority of the clash. Blake Ahearn and Janis Strelnieks helped it to 30-20 in the second quarter, but Rasko Katic rallied Zvezda to 41-39 halftime score. Ahearn and Strelniekas extended it back to 64-53 in the third, but Zvezda again found a way to rally, tying it to 77-77 behind DeMarcus Nelson, before Strelnieks hit 3 of 3 from the foul line with 2.2 seconds left, lifting Budivelnik to victory. Strelnieks had 20 points and 5 assists, while Ahearn netted 16 for Budivelnik. DaJuan Summers collected a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, Darjus Lavrinovic scored 11, and Ricky Minard 10 points in victory. For Zvezda, Katic scored 14 of his 20 points in the second quarter, while Nelson bagged 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Nelson also had 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Charles Jenkins scored 11, and Marko Simonovic had 10 points in defeat.
Two teams traded leads often in the opening quarter. Strelnieks strung together a basket-plus-foul and a fastbreak layup for 9-6, but Zvezda replied going inside on five straight possessions, and Ivan Radenovic and Nelson put the visitors in front 13-14. A three-pointer from Dainius Salenga and a jumper from Ahearn gave Budivelnik control in the late stages of the quarter, and Strelnieks made it 22-16 after 10 minutes. Ahearn nailed 8 consecutive points at the start of the second, including a pair of triples for 30-20, the first double-digit lead of the night. Katic cut the deficit, and Simonovic nailed Zvezda’s first three-pointer of the game for 32-27. A triple from Lavrinovic on the other end extended the score back to 10 points, but Katic was unstoppable, scoring 10 points in the final 3 minutes of the half, and making it 41-39 at halftime.
Katic tied it with free throws to start the third quarter, but Strelnieks and Lavrinovic kept Budivelnik in front. Branko Lazic and Tadija Dragicevic hit back-to-back threes, getting the visitors within 52-51. But Ahearn and Strelnieks buried back-to-back from downtown, too, before Strelnieks added a basket-plus free throw, helping Budivelnik to 64-53. Another three-pointer from Lazic made it 66-58 after three quarters, and at the start of the fourth Nelson made couple of baskets, before back-to-back triples from Jenkins and Simonovic cut it to 70-68. Dunks from Summers and Artur Drozdov on consecutive possessions gave Budivelnik more breathing room, but Nelson scored and dished, including a driving layup for 77-75 with little over 2 minutes to go. After Budivelnik’s timeout, Simonovic tied it with a layup, but Minard banked a shot high off the glass for 79-77. Jenkins answered with a long jumper, but Strelnieks hit 3 of 3 from the foul line with 2.2 seconds left on the clock, to lift Budivelnik to victory.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014