|Despite a record-breaking scoring performance by the hosts, a point-for-point battle in the Eurocup Semifinals ended with visiting Uxue Bilbao Basket defeating Budivelnik Kiev by 83-93 in the opener of their two-game series on Wednesday in the Ukrainian capital. A 13-30 run over 9 minutes bridging halftime – from 40-35 behind to 53-65 ahead – proved the difference in Bilbao going home with a double-digit lead to protect in Game 2 next Thursday. The visitors needed all the scoring they could get to withstand Budivelnik guard Malcolm Delaney's 38-point explosion, the best scoring performance not only in any semifinal to date, but also in any game later the regular season during the Eurocup's 11-season history. Delaney hit 6 of 9 three-pointers and 14 of 16 free throws – another semifinals record – but it wasn't enough. Bilbao had more and better-distributed scoring, with Lamont Hamilton owning the inside for 26 points on 9-for-14 two-point shooting. Kostas Vasiliadis followed him with 20 points, including 4 triples. Alex Mumbru and Nikos Zisis added 14 points each, with Mumbru dishing 7 of Bilbao's 22 assists, double those of Budivelnik.
The hosts opened the scoring as Delaney buried a three-pointer while Bilbao went inside for 3 baskets shared by Hamilton and Hervelle. Delaney was inspired, though, as he added a layup off a steal by George Tsintsadze, who already had 3 assists, and a transition triple. After Anisimov's free throws made it 12-6, the veterans Mumbru and Zisis quickly tied the score for Bilbao before Delaney took back the lead at the free throw line as he already reached 10 points and 5 rebounds. He would get to 13 points on his third three-pointer, at 19-15, but Vasiliadis was now ready to shoot, and in the quarter's last 93 seconds buried 7 points on 3 shots, the last of them Bilbao's first triple, which was worth a 19-20 lead after 10 minutes.
Anisimov and Tsintsadze gave Budivelnik a 6-0 run to start the second quarter, and when Artur Drozdov blasted a shot from the arc, Budivelnik again had a six-point lead, 28-22. But again Bilbao reeled it in with 2 triples from Adrien Moerman and the next basket by Vasiliadis forging another tie, 30-30. When Zisis joined the visiting marksmen from downtown, Bilbao had its first lead since the game's second minute, 32-33. The points kept piling up as Delaney's next batch of 6 in a row put Budivelnik back in front, 40-35. Hamilton, Mumbru and Moerman answered quickly, however, getting Bilbao close enough for more last minute fireworks. A triple by Raul Lopez gave the visitors the lead again, then a steal and buzzer-beating shot from long distance by Mumbru sent Bilbao to the locker room with a sudden 44-48 advantage.
An unstoppable Delaney and Dainius Salenga kept Budivelnik as close as 51-54 after halftime before Hamilton and Vasiliadis split 7 unanswered points to launch Bilbao on a 2-11 run that provided the game's first double-digit lead, 53-65. Budivelnik struggled to keep pace despite Delaney hitting his 10th perfect free throw for 26 points. While Mumbru had already become Bilbao's third double-digit scorer and two other visitors had at least 8 points, only Tsintsadze had more than 6 points among Delaney's teammates on Budivelnik. He reached 8 on a jump shot with 7 seconds left that trimmed the difference to 61-71 after three quarters.
Salenga got Budivelnik within single digits again with the fourth quarter's first basket. The defense of the hosts limited Bilbao to just 4 free throws in 4 minutes as Delaney re-heated with 4 points around a triple from Lyons to make it 70-75. Vasiliadis answered with a dagger from downtown for Bilbao before Hamilton re-asserted his inside dominance to reach 26 points and a 73-83 lead. Delaney would not be denied, however, and buried another triple and then a free throw that broke the Eurocup semifinals scoring record, which had been 34 points. And he wasn't done. He and Vasiliadis traded triples in the final minute as both teams remembered that they were only at halftime of an 80-minute series. That's why Bilbao took a timeout with 21 seconds left to set up a three-pointer by Zisis with 4 seconds left. It was Bilbao's fifth third in the last minute of a quarter on the night and the main reason the visitors were going home in charge of the series at 83-93.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013