Cedevita picks up second win in 2OT thriller
Cedevita Zagreb earned its second consecutive victory –and its second ever in the Euroleague- in Group C on Thursday night and ended Zalgiris Kaunas’ unbeaten run in the 2012-13 season with a 108-106 double overtime victory at Drazen Petrovic Basketball Center in the Croatian capital. Bracey Wright and Vlado Ilievski played big roles as Cedevita came from behind to tie the game and force overtime, then Mickael Gelabale forced the second extra session with a follow-dunk before the hosts wrested control of the game. Gelabale led the hosts with 23 points and 10 rebounds, Wright added 20 points, Predrag Suput scored 18 and Ilievski 16.Zalgiris had come into the game with the chance to secure qualification for the Top 16, but will have to wait after losing in a marathon match. Darjus Lavrinovic paced the Lithuanian champs with 24 points, Marko Popovic scored 19, Paulius Jankunas and Rimas Kaukenas netted 15 each and Tremell Darden 11.
First quarter: Zalgiris follows the script
The game opened up with a three-point play from Darjus Lavrinovic, who sent in a close range shot and drew the foul in the process. The visiting side showed typically imposing offense early on, but looked to be lacking something on defense. Gelabale made a series of drives inside and was left wide open for a deep two, exposing the space left by Zalgiris. Gelabale had put down 8 points by the mid-way mark in the first quarter, although Zalgiris's varied offense had kept things tight. Kaukenas got Zalgiris back in front, 15-16, hitting the first triple of the night. Most of the play, however, centered on shots from inside the perimeter, as both teams preferred to attempt high percentage shots. Success from such shots gave Zalgiris the biggest advantage of the quarter: 17-28 off the back of a Jankunas fade away and subsequent inbound pass interception. The quiet Ilievski took his first shot for Cedevita with a layup seconds before the end, which was matched by Popovic at the other end as Zalgiris led at the end of the first quarter, 19-28.
Second quarter: Cedevita gest going
There was a dry spell for the teams in the opening three minutes of the second quarter, with just two baskets scored. Neither side was able to put in a consistent run of points. Mindaugas Kuziminskas finally got Zalgiris started after 3:45 played, which was Oliver Lafayette's cue to follow up with a three-pointer and the visitors first double-digit lead. A smooth passing game was then introduced by the visitors climaxing in a Jeff Foote dunk, but Cedevita nailed a timely triple from Ilievski to bring the difference back to just 3 points. Predrag Suput had the chance to bring Cedevita level from the line, but missed one of his free throws. Wright made no mistake when given his chance at the charity stripe, giving his team the lead for the first time. That wasn't the last word in the first half, however; Darjus Lavrinovic put in an immediate dunk to keep Zalgiris in front, 39-40, at halftime.
Third quarter: Things start heating up
In a mirror image of the start of the first half, Darjus Lavrinovic hit a layup to get things going in the second half. He again had a chance to make it a three-point play from the foul line, but missed his shot. Cedevita's top scorer from the opening two quarters hit another long range two to break up Zalgiris's scoring run, and gradually his teammates upped the scoring. Wright showed hustle inside to rebound and put in a two, then Marques Green scored his first points of the game with a clutch three, drawing the game level at 46-46. On a hot streak, Green repeated the feat for a second triple and the lead, which was short-lived when Kaukenas responded for Zalgiris. Cedevita was made to work for it, but finally went up by 5, just past the halfway point in the third quarter. The highlight of the final minute was another huge triple, this time from Wright, which had the hosts ending a quarter as the leader for the first time at 63-60.
Fourth quarter: Triples take game into overtime
Knowing that its unbeaten run and the chance to confirm its presence in the Top 16 was in jeopardy, Zalgiris came out motivated for the final quarter, but so did Cedevita. A second triple from Wright kept the Croatian side in front, and the 6-point advantage remained even when challenged by Popovic's own shots from beyond the perimeter. The impromptu shootout was continued by Ilievski, who hit his second triple of the game and took the score to 76-70. The lead was worked away through a run of scoring by the visitors, poising the contest at a 2-point game coming into the final four minutes. Marko Tomas announced his arrival with a three that brought the crowd to its feet, sensing as upset. Two minutes before the final buzzer, the game was tied and Cedevita was in foul trouble, with Luksa Andric committing his fifth infraction and being sent out of the game. Suput followed a few moments later with a foul that put Jankunas on the foul line. He hit his first, missed the second and set up a thrilling finish. Tremell Darden was given the opportunity to kill the game off with 3 free throws, but could hit just one of them and left Cedevita with a dilemma: 80-82 down, with 46 seconds on the clock, would Coach Bozidar Maljkovic instruct his players to go for the win or push for overtime? The answer came quickly, as Goran Suton put in a short two to tie the score. Zalgiris was sent to the line, Popovic missed his initial free throw but kept his cool to drop in the second. Things looked to have fallen apart for Cedevita when a misplaced pass was intercepted by Popovic, a foul was committed and another free throw was converted, but Bracey Wright responded with a clutch three to take the game to overtime.
First overtime: The best things come with threes
A long two from Green started the nervy overtime period, answered by a Zalgiris three-pointer from Ibrahim Jaaber. Ksistof Lavrinovic fouled out for the visitors and Tomas gave Cedevita the lead, 91-90, from the line. The overtime advantage was traded back and forth, extending to 3 points when Jankunas hit a spin move on the baseline in the final 40 seconds. Darden's free throw and Cedevita's need to foul looked to have ended things, but the hosts wouldn't lie down. Ilievski found a huge three-pointer and a superhuman put-back from Gelabale tied things at 100-100. A second overtime period awaited.
Second overtime: Clutch Cedevita makes club history
Cedevita kept hitting the triples at the start of the second overtime period, and Zalgiris kept going to the foul line. Wright hit his fourth shot from outside the perimeter as the totals hit 106-106. Players fouled out by the minute, including Zalgiris's Popovic. Finally, Ilievski made it 108-106 from the line, Jaaber missed a late chance at a winner for Zalgiris and Cedevita took a historic victory.
Thursday, November 15, 2012