Unics Kazan got its ticket to the ULEB Cup elimination rounds on Tuesday night by beating the EiffelTowers in Holland by 84-88. The win allows Unics to advance with a 6-2 record in Group D, while the Towers are mathematically out of the race for the title by dropping to 2-6. The winners suffered more than they expected to win however, as the EiffelTowers managed to stay close, and they even jumped ahead steady in the last period, holding a 1-point advantage in minute 38, 84-83, but a late 0-5 run capped with free throws by Saulius Stombergas sealed the win. Stombergas was the best again with 25 points for Unics including 7 of 10 two-point shots and 3 of 3 triples. Darjus Lavrinovic added his help with 24 points and 9 boards, Jarod Stevenson hit 16 and Dusko Savanovic contributed 11 points. For the EiffelTowers, Robert Owens led the way with 16 points, Travis Young had 14, Leon Rodgers 13 and Sharone Wright 10.
The EiffelTowers started with a 4-0 run capped by Sam Jones, but Dusko Savanovic soon tied things up for Unics at 6-6. Savanovic and Darjus Lavrinovic, with a triple, soon got the Russian team ahead by 8-13, but Travis Young also had a three in his hands to make it 11-13. Saulius Stombergas and Savanovic were Unics' main offensive option for Unics at that point, while Young was too lonely as the Towers' best threat. However, two straigh triples by Robert Owens and Kees Akerboom tied the game at 23-23 again, and it was Lavrinovic who scored the last basket of the quarter for a 23-25 first quarter Unics' edge. Lavrinovic also drained a three to start the second quarter, and Stombergas posted four points in a row to put Unics away by 25-30. James Nelson and Leon Rodgers kept the hosts alive, 33-36. The EiffelTowers managed to keep the deficit at one point on several occasions as Young and Jones blasted straight triples to reply the one by Stombergas to make it 43-45 by the halftime break.
The second half started with two free throws by Young that tied the game, 45-45, but Jarod Stevenson seemed to put Unics in safe place with his bucket for 47-52. However, Owens and Akerboom combined for a 5-0 run including a triple that tied the game again at 54-54, and then Owens blasted a new three to put the hosts ahead for the first time, 57-56. Lavrinovic soon stopped the bleeding for Unics, but Sharone Wright and Rashawn Weathers maintained the EiffelTowers in control, 68-67 after 30 minutes. Stombergas, with a three, and Lavrinovic scored fast for Unics starting the definitive period, 70-74, but Weathers, Owens and Rodgers blasted straight threes for 82-79. Stombergas and his solid shooting kept Unics alive, and Owens lifted a layup to make it 84-83. With two minutes to go however, the hosts would not score anymore and as both offenses struggled, Stombergas posted two free throws that left Unics out of reach in the last play, 84-88, to give the guests a ticket to the elimination rounds.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006