Cedevita holds off Lietkabelis to secure Top 16 ticket
Cedevita Zagreb punched its Top 16 ticket by registering its fourth consecutive win, holding off previously-qualified Lietkabelis Panevezys on the road 68-69 on Wednesday night. Cedevita improved to 4-2 in Group A, while Lietkabelis dropped to 3-3, however, Lietkabelis holds a potential tiebreak advantage over the Croatian champs due to its 4-point win in Round 2 in Zagreb. Cedevita led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, but the hosts tied the game in the fourth quarter before Marko Tomas and Marko Arapovic scored key baskets in the final minute. Tomas finished with a EuroCup career-best 23 points on 4-for-8 three-point shooting. Arapovic collected 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists and Luka Babic scored 10 in victory. Ksistof Lavrinovic scored 16 for the hosts, Ben Madgen netted 15 with 9 rebounds and Mindaugas Lukauskis scored 10 in defeat.
Veteran Lukauskis hit a triple early and dished 3 assists, the last one to fellow vet Ksistof Lavrinovic, whose triple made it 14-9. However, the visitors took the lead before the end of first quarter and remained ahead 16-17 at the start of the second. With six different players scoring, including a triple each from Arapovic and Tomas to make it 28-34, and the visitors even increased the margin to 32-39 at halftime. With baskets from Babic and Arapovic, and another three from Tomas, Cedevita pulled away to 34-46 early in the third quarter, and point guard Toni Katic increased the margin to 14 points midway through the quarter. A triple from Donatas Tarolis – his only basket of the night - sparked a run that got the hosts within 48-53 after 30 minutes. Cedevita briefly restored a 10-point margin in the fourth, but Lietkabelis was not going away. With
aggressive defense that helped force turnovers, and by pulling down offensive rebounds, the hosts cut the deficit, before a triple from Lukauskis and baseline jumper from Ksistof Lavrinovic tied things at 59-59 with less than four minutes remaining. Babic got Cedevita back in front, and after Tomas and Madgen traded threes, Cedevita entered the final minute up 62-64. Arapovic scored a circus shot for a three-point play to get some breathing room for the visitors, but Madgen answered with another three. On the ensuing trip down the floor, Miro Bilan and Babic secured a key offensive rebound, and Tomas sealed the deal with free throws 8.5 seconds before the final buzzer.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016