Cedevita Zagreb notched a significant win in an overtime thriller 114-110 over Gran Canaria 2014 on Tuesday night at the Drazen Petrovic Basketball Center against. Bracey Wright shared the spotlight with Damjan Rudez in a game for the ages. The game was the third-highest scoring game in Eurocup history and the most points in a game that did not go to at least two overtimes. Wright forced overtime by going to the line down three in the closing seconds of regulation and making his first free throw, intentionally missing the second and capturing the rebound in time to beat the buzzer with a fadeaway jumper and force overtime. Rudez took the torch and nailed 3 straight three-pointers in overtime to secure the win. Rudez finished with a career-high 35 points, Wright amassed 24 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, while Corsley Edwards added 18 points and 9 rebounds, and Robert Troha and Dontaye Draper scored 16 apiece, with the latter also dishing out 11 assists. Cedevita’s first win in the group put it in a three-way tie with Gran Canaria and Hemofarm Stada in the group. Jaycee Carroll paced Granca with 28 points. Sitapha Savane added 16, Michael Bramos scored 13, Xavi Rey 11 and CJ Wallace 10. Gran Canaria and Cedevita wll face each other again in two weeks in the Canary Islands.
The game was tight from the get-go, though not lacking in high-quality baskets, as Rudez proved with a double-clutch-baseline-driving layup to tie the game at 5-5. As both teams tried to stretch the floor, Gran Canaria’s Taurean Green and Cedevita’s Vedran Vukusic traded triples before Wallace joined the long-range party to make it 12-17. Offenses flowed, as Cedevita executed beautifully on the half court sets, and some crisp passing allowed Draper to score on a cutting penetration before Spencer Nelson counted with his first bucket on the other side: 14-21. Rudez led the charge for the hosts as he netted half of Cedevita’s first 22 points to give the home team the lead at 22-21. But even as Edwards slammed one home, Nelson swished his second field goal to enter the second quarter at a 26-28 advantage for the visitors. Gran Canaria kept pushing in the second quarter, with Javier Beiran and Bramos getting into the mix offensively and forcing Cedevita head coach Aleksandar Petrovic to call timeout after the visitors built a quick 6-point difference. The talk did not serve the hosts well, as Cedevita’s ensuing 2-3 zone was blown wide open by Bramos and Green triples and a Nelson dunk off a nifty penetrating assist by Green: 31-44. After another timeout, Wright was able to shake loose for a three-pointer and Cevevita exhaled some, while trying to emphasize Edwards back-to-the basket post-ups to get a semblance of an inside game going. But Bramos was definitely feeling it in the second quarter, scoring his 10th point with a deep triple before Rey widened the gap to 38-49 on a jumper and halftime was reached at 43-49 after the hosts were able to cut back on a Wright three and a couple of Edwards free throws.
Draper came out aggressive after the break, scoring Cedevita’s first basket on a drive before Wallace answered from beyond the arc for Gran Canaria. But the hosts were intent on attacking the offensive glass. Wright scored on a layup off an offensive miss and Rudez converted a three-point play before Jim Moran answered from long distance for the visitors, setting the margin at 50-55. Cedevita insisted on establishing an inside game to complement Rudez, slowing the game down, and countering Gran Canaria’s marksmanship from the perimeter. But the trade-off wasn’t good enough: while Edwards had to labor for inside shots or trips to the line, the visitors kept stroking threes, and it was only after Beiran swished one from beyond the arc to stretch the lead to 56-63 that Wright decided he had enough, hitting consecutive triples to enable his team to reach the fourth quarter at a respectable distance: 64-68. If Cedevita expected to exhale some, Nelson made clear breathing room was not to be granted by Gran Canaria, as he added another three-pointer previous to Mario Bellas becoming the eighth visiting player to score from beyond the arc. Before the home crowd could spell “c-o-m-e-b-a-c-k”, it was 68-74. While Rudez had carried the hosts in the first half, Wright was the one willing them in the final quarter, and the guard scored on a three-point play that, combined with a Troha triple, allowed Cedevita to keep the deficit at 76-82 even after Wallace converted Gran Canaria’s 14th three-pointer of the game. With five minutes to go, offenses kept on full throttle, as Draper and Carroll traded long-range bombs and Troha added another to score it 83-85. Rudez finally clanked one and Wallace extended the margin on the ensuing fast break, but Troha proved as clutch as they come by draining a corner three to make it a one-possession game, and the final minute was reached at 87-90. Cedevita had the basketball but Troha could not keep the streak going and finally misfired on a wide-open three. Draper came through by snatching the rebound and cutting the deficit to 89-90 with 42 seconds left in regulation. With tight defense on the perimeter, the visitors opted for a drive by Carroll, and the guard responded with a gutsy layup against Rudez that pinned Cedevita against the wall again: 89-92 and 22 seconds to go. Edwards then split a couple of free throws in crunch time and Green hit both his shots before Rudez extended the drama with a triple and 9 seconds left on the clock: 93-94. Carroll did not miss on the ensuing trip to the line, but Bramos fouled Wright on the next possession, and the guard took the opportunity to tie the game by hitting his first foul shot, missing his second, capturing the rebound and swishing a gorgeous fallaway jumper. Overtime was due.
The three-point fest continued in the extra period, as Rudez came out of the gate firing and converted three straight from beyond the arc to score 9 of his team’s first 11 points and put Cedevita in the driver’s seat at 107-101 with three minutes to go. With the hosts’ defense denying the perimeter, Gran Canaria labored inside, but had trouble scoring until Savane made it a two-possession game on a layup with 1:30 left: 107-103. Wright countered with a high-wire hook shot and Bellas again provided some extra emotion with a drop-back three that gave Gran Canaria hope at 112-109 with 17 ticks left on the clock. But Draper was as cool as ice from the line to seal the deal for Cedevita, hitting both his free throws and positioning the home team right back in the race for the playoffs with a comeback win for the ages.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011