Lukoil Academic took a crucial step to make it to the elimination rounds for the fourth consecutive season by edging Telindus Oostende 60-67 in Group C on Tuesday night. Lukoil improved to 4-2 and stays second in the Group C standings, one win away from the group leader, Montepaschi Siena, which leads the standings at 5-1. Meanwhile, Oostende dropped to 2-4 and joins a three-way tie with Alba Berlin and Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem for the decisive fourth spot in this group. Lamont Jones led the winners with 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Todor Stoykov posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds for Lukoil. Elvir Ovcina also had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead Oostende. Guy Muya and Eric Hicks each added 11 while Lavor Postell had 10 for the hosts. Lukoil broke the game in the second quarter and an outstanding Jones allowed the guests to get a 24-36 margin. Oostende recovered after the break and a three-pointer by Muya brought the hosts within 57-60. Stoykov made free throws while Gjorgji Cekovski added 5 points in a 0-7 tun which sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Cekovski opened the score with a layup which Postell erased in the other end for a 2-2 tie. Both teams struggled to score early, but Ovcina hit a five-meter jumper and Muya added a free throw to give Oostende a 5-2 edge. A big block by Cekovski allowed Stoykov to score his first basket, while Ovcina and Jones exchanged baskets for a 7-6 score. Hicks stepped up with a layup and a three-point play, but a very active Jones and Lamont Barnes answered to keep Lukoil close at 12-10. Taliek Brown fired in a jumper and then followed Barnes' basket with a layup which gave Lukoil a 14-16 lead after 10 minutes. Oostende had been limited to 2 points in 7 minutes now. Meanwhile, Jones scored again to give Lukoil its biggest lead, 14-18. Vanja Plasnic fired in the game's first three-pointer, as Lukoil had missed 10 attempts from downtown already. Stoykov matched it with a three-point play on Rashad Wright's third foul. Postell hit free throws but Jones scored twice around the basket to force a Oostende timeout at 19-25. Riste Stefanov buried a jumper while Stoykov fired in a triple to make it an 11-point game, 19-30, after a 0-9 run. Denis Wucherer and Sam Van Rossom combined for 5 quick points, but Jones followed free throws with a jumper in a 0-6 run which Stoykov capped with free throws to give Lukoil a 24-36 halftime margin.
Oostende improved its defense right after the break. Meanwhile, Ovcina buried a three-pointer and Hicks dunked it in a 7-2 run which brought Oostende within 31-38. Mate Skelin made a free throw while the ever-present Jones buried a jumper to wake Lukoil up. Brown scored in transition to make the guests restore a double-digit lead, 33-43, midway through the third quarter. Wucherer stepped up with a driving layup and Hicks added another dunk, while Postell followed one from downtown with a basket which made it a three-point game, 42-45. Brown hit free throws and followed Jones' foul shots with a layup to give Lukoil some air at 42-51. Free throws by Muya and Plisnic, as well as a layup by Cekovski fixed the score at 46-53 after three quarters. Skelin and Ovcina traded baskets early in the final period, in which Lukoil tried to slow down the tempo. Both teams went scoreless for almost 2 minutes until Jones scored for a 48-57 Lukoil lead. Ovcina and Hicks stepped up with consecutive baskets, and even when Jones hit one from downtown, Muya followed a layup with his own three-pointer to get Oostende back in the game, 57-60, with 4 minutes to go. Lukoil improved its defense down the stretch, while Stoykov made free throws and Cekovski nailed a critical triple to make the guests seal the win, 57-65. Oostende did not give up, but Lukoil left Belgium with a valuable road win.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006