Rudez buzzer-beater saves Zaragoza from elimination
In his hometown, against his former team, Damjan Rudez hit a last second triple to lift CAI Zaragoza on the road over Cedevita Zagreb 74-77 on Wednesday in Croatian capital. Both teams now hold 2-3 record in Group P, and will need to win next week to have a chance to advance to the eightfinals. Cedevita’s satisfaction is it holds a tie-breaker over Zaragoza due to a 67-75 victory on the opening night of the Last 32. Teams traded leads for 40 minutes, with neither opponent holding more than 6 points throughout the game. Ante Delas hit a pair of three-pointers to put Cedevita up 71-66 with under 3 minutes to go, but Jonathan Tabu and Joseph Jones rallied Zaragoza, and Rudez hit a game-winner from the right corner as time expired. Tabu paced the winners with 15 points, while Jones and Henk Norel had 12 apiece. Giorgi Shermadini scored 10, and Rudez finished with 9 points in victory. Jusuf Nurkic led Cedevita with 18 points and 3 blocks, Miro Bilan added 15 while Ante Delas netted 9 in Cedevita’s third home defeat in the Last 32 action.
Zaragoza opened the game with control of the boards, and accuracy from the three-point range. Joseph Jones and Michael Roll scored put-backs for the visitors, and despite a triple from Luka Babic on the other end, Jones with a layup and Pedro Llompart with a corner triple made it 9-13. Miro Bilan hit a long jumper, and Marino Bazdaric a three-pointer for the hosts, but Jon Stefansson nailed one from long range for Zaragoza, helping it to 16-20 after the first quarter. Jusuf Nurkic scored twice to start the second quarter, but Jonathan Tabu buried a wide-open three, and Henk Norel scored a basket-plus foul for 22-28. The visitors were switching man-to-man, and zone defense, but Cedevita kept its offensive rhythm with a jumper from Ante Delas and another triple from Bazdaric. Cedevita strung together few defensive stands and Nurkic’s fastbreak layup put Cedevita in front 31-30, but Damjan Rudez hit a corner triple to end Zaragoza’s drought and Jones nailed a mid-range jumper for 31-35. After Cedevita timeout, Nolan Smith drove to the hoop, and Bilan finished a fastbreak with a two-handed slam, sending teams into the halftime tied at 35-35.
Teams continued trading leads in the third quarter, with Bilan scoring basket-plus-foul for Cedevita, while Shermadini and Roll had layups for the visitors. A jumper from Smith and a dunk from Ivan Ramljak put Cedevita up 45-41, but full-court pressure from Zaragoza resulted in Tabu scoring basket-plus-foul twice for 47-47. Bilan made a layup for the hosts, but Tabu sank a three-pointer to end the third quarter, 50-50. Roll and Nurkic traded baskets in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. After Shermadini’s alley-oop dunk for 54-56, Nurkic hit a pair of layups and had a pair of blocked shots, before Tomislav Zubcic nailed a triple for 63-58. Rudez and Llompart hit three-pointers to bring Zaragoza within 1, but Delas buried back-to-back triples for 71-66. However, Zaragoza replied with a three-pointer from Tabu, and a baseline jumper from Jones to grab another lead 71-72. Norel’s dunk put the visitors up by 3 points, but Suton grabbed an offensive rebound and sank a pair of free throws to tie it 74-74 with 12 seconds to go. After a timeout, Zaragoza had a final possession, and Rudez hit it from the right corner as the time expired to give his team victory.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014