Dynamo Moscow became the first team to reach the Eurocup Final Eight when it scored a 76-80 road win at Maroussi Costa Coffee on Tuesday in Athens, Greece. Dynamo forward Bostjan Nachbar scored 7 points in the last five minutes after Maroussi came back to take the lead as head coach David Blatt's men won their sixth straight game to improve to 4-0 in Group I. Meanwhile, Maroussi fell to 2-2 and is now tied with BC Khimki for second place in the group. Those two teams will meet in a crucial game in Russia next week. Nachbar finished with a season-high 27 points to lead Dynamo. Brian Chase added 16 in his debut for the winners, while Robertas Javtokas scored 14 and Darjus Lavrinovic 12. Dynamo also outrebounded Maroussi 27-34 despite the fact that no single player had more than 6 boards for the visitors. Billy Keys carried Maroussi with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, Jaros Stevenson fired his way to 18 points and Loukas Mavrokefalides posted 17 points and 9 rebounds. After a closely played first half, Chase and Lavrinovic shined in a 0-10 third-period run that gave Dynamo control. Still, Keys hit a three-pointer that capped his team's 9-0 fourth quarter surge for a 66-65 lead. Nachbar stood tall when he was needed most to settle his team and score some clutch points that led to a win and a Final Eight berth.
Maroussi jumped out to a quick 7-4 lead behind 5 points by Stevenson and a jumper by Loukas Mavrokefalidis. Darjus Lavrinovic stepped up for Dynamo as he first drove to the basket, found Robertas Javtokas for a one-handed dunk and then knocked down a long jumper to complete a 0-7 run for the visitors. Maroussi stayed scoreless for almost 4 minutes until Dimitris Mavroeidis split free throws to make it 8-11. Javtokas responded with a hook shot, but Stevenson bettered him with a triple to pull Maroussi within 11-13. Although Dynamo stayed ahead with free throws, but Maroussi mounted a late 7-1 spurt featuring back-to-back inside baskets by Mavrokefalides to end the first quarter with a 19-17 lead. An off-balance jumper by Pat Calathes added to Maroussi's lead to start the second quarter, then he took an alley-oop pass from Keys to force a Dynamo timeout. Calathes was active defensively as well, helping hold Dynamos scoreless for 3 minutes. Keys unleashed a three-pointer for a high lead to 26-17 before Javtokas dunked and Sergey Bykov downed a triple to revive Dynamo. Despite the fact that Javtokas was dominating inside, Maroussi kept Dynamo in catch-up mode as Keys contributed 4 points to a 34-29 gap. Lavrinovic followed with a triple, but then he failed to regain the lead for the guests and Stevenson buried two free-throws as Maroussi held a 36-33 edge at halftime.
Brian Chase roared out of the break, scoring consecutive baskets for Dynamo, and soon after Nachbar sank a triple to mark a 36-40 advantage for the guests. Keys did not fold though, as he scored from three-point range to get Maroussi back in front, 41-40. After a basket by Lavrinovic, Maroussi's bench was hit with a technical foul, which allowed Dynamo to pull away 41-46. Then, a few possessions later, Kostas Charalampidis received another technical, marking Maroussi's sixth turnover in 5 minutes, as Dyanmo boosted its margin to 41-50. Mavrokefalides hit a free throw to end Dynamo's 0-10 run but, after a series of missed shots in both ends, Chase scored on a flashy drive to build a double-digit lead. Maroussi was lackluster in offense, having scored only a basket in almost 9 minutes, but when Keys nailed a triple, Maroussi had trimmed the lead to 50-57 after 30 minutes. Nachbar started the fourth quarter with a triple, and even though Dynamo's bench now got a technical foul, the guests rushed to a 54-64 advantage. Nothing was over, however , as the backcourt tandem of Keys and Stevenson sliced the margin to 61-65 with 6 minutes remaining. Then, after a Lavrinovic technical foul and with the score at 63-65, Keys swished a triple to complete an amazing 14-1 comeback run with Maroussi ahead 66-65. With the game on the line, Lavrinovic and Nachbar stepped up to give Dynamo a 66-69 lead. Kostas Kaimakoglou scored a gutsy basket inside the paint, but Dynamo veteran Dimitri Domani answered with free throws at 68-72. Keys found Mavrokefalides, who knocked down a jumper to close the gap at 72-74, but with 44 seconds left, Nachbar hit a tough jump shot to keep Dynamo in the driver's seat. Out of a Maroussi timeout, Mavrokefalides put back an offensive rebound, but with 17 seconds to go, Chase was perfect from the free-throw line, part of his 10-for-10 performance there on the night. Keys flashed his way to the basket, which meant that the hosts’ only chance to stay alive was if Lavrinovic missed any free throws. He hit the first one, missed the second, but the Lithuanian gobbled the crucial offensive board to seal the outcome of the game and send Dynamo Moscow to the Final Eight!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Epameinondas Tsakalos, Athens