Hemofarm Stada improved to 2-0 in Group B of the Eurocup on Tuesday night after edging out pesky Asvel Basket 97-93 at the Centar Millenium. Now 2-0, head coach Zeljko Lukajic’s team will head to play BG Goettingen next week feeling as good as one can after a tight defeat of an opponent that did not let down despite a 21-point deficit in the third quarter. Milan Macvan, Marko Sutalo and Bojan Krstovic paced the hosts with 13 points each, while Boris Savovic scored 12 and Danilo Andusovic 10. Macvan aslso totaled 7 rebounds and 8 assists, while point guard Miljan Pavkovic scored 9 points – 6 of them with clutch free throws in the final minutes. Asvel almost made a heroic comeback thanks to point guard Cliff Hammond’s play and 25 points and Andrija Zizic’s 19. Davon Jefferson scored 17 and Mickael Gelabale added 14 for Asvel, who plays Besiktas in Week 3.
Sutalo was the surprise factor for Hemofarm early on, as he started the game with a layup and a three-pointer that sparked a 7-0 jump. Asvel quickly answered with some Bangaly Fofana activity, mainly on the offensive glass, and closed the gap, but high scoring Matt Walsh was nowhere to be seen after his Week 1 offensive binge, as the host’s defense kept him in check throughout the first half. Hammonds was the one pacing Asvel during a stretch in which the biggest lead was 7 points, with Hemofram always in the driver seat. Sutalo was the major problem for Asvel, as the guard hit all but one of his 6 first half shots, netting 3 triples, while Macvan worked the post patiently. A couple of free throw trips by key reserves Milos Borisov and Savokic that sandwiched an Ivan Maras layup increased the margin to 34-20 by the third minute of the second period, as the Serb side tried to establish its renowned running style. But the Zizic-Gelabale tandem provided quality minutes and Asvel climbed back to leave things 48-39 at the break.
Things definitely heated up for the hosts in the third quarter, as Hemofarm put the emphasis on the perimeter, hitting up to 4 triples – 3 of them on consecutive possessions – to spark a 22-10 run that gave them a 70-49 cushion. Krstovic was the catalyst in the quarter with 3 bombs as Asvel struggled to keep pace with Pavkovic, who forced the visiting defense to play catch up until a Zizic bucket and Paul Lacombe triple and free throw kept the difference at reasonable distance: 78-61 with a quarter to go. Zizic and Gelabale kept at it in the fourth, while Hammonds worked to control the tempo and somehow get Walsh more involved after the guard rested the final minutes of the third quarter. With Hammonds more aggressive on penetrations and even netting his first triple, it was 84-76 all of a sudden. Zeljko Lukajic decided to go to center Jerome Jordan for some quality looks and the big man responded with consecutive layups to regain a double-digit lead. Hammonds was on fire at that point though, as he scored 5 straight by fearlessly attacking the rim and closed the gap to 88-83 with three minutes left to play. Pavkovic could not find the handle in time for the hosts and the Asvel press forced three point shots off the mark and turnovers that Zizic turned into a 88-85 score with a thrilling two minutes to play. Hemofarm went to Macvan in crunch time again and the big man responded with a clutch layup that put Asvel against the wall. Davon Jefferson answered with a close range bucket of his own to make it 90-87, Pavkovic converted 4 free throws and Gelabale was still able to score a triple for a 93-90 last ditch attempt. As Pavkovic continued to come through from the line, Hammonds netted another desperation three to make it 95-93, but Pavkovic was cool as ice under pressure and put the nail in the coffin with his last 2 free throws of the night. He was a perfect 6 for 6, and that was enough for Hemofarm to reach of 2-0 in Group B.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010