Spartak St Petersburg took a step closer to the Eurocup Finals with a 64-68 road win at CEZ Nymburk on Monday in the first game of their two-game, total-points quarterfinals series. Patrick Beverley scored 19 points and Vladimir Dragicevic 18 for Spartak, which improved to 12-1 in the Eurocup this season. Coach Jure Zdovc’s men will reach the next stage with a win in next week’s deciding fixture – or a loss by fewer than 4 points. Nymburk rallied from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to within 4 to leave itself a chance in game 2. The major difference in the game was shooting accuracy: Nymburk made 19 of 40 two-pointers (47.5%) and 4 of 14 threes (28.6%) compared to Spartak’s 21 of 35 two-pointers (60%) and 7 of 18 triples (38.9%). Valery Likhodey added 11 for the winners. Tre Simmons paced Nymburk with 23 points and 4 steals, Lamayne Wilson added 11 points and Eugene Lawrence produced 10 points in defeat.
The game got off to a slow start with both teams missing from near and far before Pavel Pumprla broke the ice for the hosts after more than two minutes. Beverley fed Yotam Halperin for a triple and Spartak’s first basket. The team traded scores early as a pair of Simmons three-pointers and 5 quick points by Likhodey put 10-10 on the scoreboard. Wilson connected from downtown to give the hosts a 3-point edge midway through the opening quarter. Beverley scored his first points, but a red-hot Simmons scored again and then stripped Beverley to set up Pumprla for a dunk. Simmons took his next steal in by himself to make it 19-12. Spartak battled back as Loukas Mavrokefalides and Likhodey from behind the arc. A pair of Mike Lenzly free throws left the hosts ahead 21-17 after 10 minutes.
Aleksey Zozulin added another Spartak triple early in the second quarter, but A.J. Abrams first basket kept Nymburk on top. The Spartak defense started to smother the hosts and a Miha Zupan three knotted the score at 25-25 midway through the quarter. Mavrokefalides then gave Spartak its first lead since the opening minutes. Lawrence drove for a basket-plus-foul as the game tightened up. Beverley and Pumprla traded baskets before Simmons lifted the hosts to 32-29. After a Spartak timeout, Beverley narrowed the gap to 1 and then assisted Likhodey for a big three and a 32-34 lead. A pair of Dragicevic baskets extended the lead. And after free throws by Lawrence and Beverley, the latter ended the half with a triple to give Spartak its biggest lead yet, 39-43.
Spartak picked up where it left off before the break as Beverley took a steal in for a slam. He added the team’s next basket before Dragicevic added 2 free throws to give the visitors the game’s first double-digit lead, 39-49. Lawrence made a free throw to end a three-and-a-half minute Nymburk scoring drought and another 90 second passed before Simmons netted the hosts first basket of the second half. Beverley seemed to have an answer for every Nymburk basket and soon Victor Keyru’s first score lifter Spartak to 45-59. Lenzley came back with a three-point play that put 48-59 on the scoreboard through three quarters.
A Simmons triple early in the fourth quarter did little to spark a comeback as Dragicevic inside and Zozulin from the line made it 51-64. Simmons and Wilson trimmed the deficit to single figures and Beverley went to the bench after committing his fourth foul with more than five minutes to play. Abrams added 2 from the line and Simmons capped an 8-0 run as Spartak coach Jure Zdovc called timeout with his team’s lead down to 5. Halperin set up Dragicevic for a key basket to make it 59-66 with 2:31 to play. Wilson countered with a dunk, but time was of the essence. Halperin fouled out and Radek Necas made it a 4-point game, but a Dragicevic slam just about sealed the outcome. Wilson made it 64-68 at the end, leaving Spartak as the favorite to advance unless Nymburk can muster a road win next week in Russia.
Monday, March 19, 2012