Union Olimpija stays atop Group D after beating Zenit
Union Olimpija Ljubljana remained atop the Group D standings after holding off Zenit St. Petersburg 89-84 on Tuesday in the Slovenian capital. The hosts led by 15 entering the fourth quarter, but Zenit rallied late on the strength of Cameron Jones and Arten Vikhrov, eventually getting a three-point look that would have tied the game. However Dmitry Kulagin missed from deep and Sasu Salin rounded out a brilliant night for Olimpija with free throws to ice the win. The result lifted Olimpija to 3-1 in Group D, which guarentees it at least a share off first place following Wednesday’s results. Zenit dropped to 1-3. Salin led the home team with 21 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting plus 10 rebounds. Mirza Begic added 17 points and 3 blocks and Blaz Mahkovic scored 10 on perfect shooting before fouling out. Jones paced Zenit with 19 points, Evgeny Valiev scored 13, Kulagin 12 and Dejan Borovnjak 11.
A Halil Kanacevic three followed by two more from Salin put the hosts up 11-5 after three minutes. Kanacevic’s second three followed by a Begic free throw gave Olimpija a double-digit advantage, 17-7. Despite baskets from Valiev and Jones, threes kept falling for Olimpija. Marko Marinovic hit one before 5 quick points from Hristo Nikolov made it 25-11. Andrey Koshcheev’s basket-plus foul helped trim the Zenit deficit to 26-14 after 10 minutes. The visitors rode baskets by Borovnjak and Walter Hodge and a Kulagin three to 28-23, however Olimpija reestablished a comfort zone through 4 points from Mahkovic. Kulagin free throws kept Zenit in the picture, but Salin scored half the points in an 8-0 spurt. Jones and Koshcheev were alone unable to reverse the game’s trend as Gregor Hrovat kept the Olimpija offense running. The difference reached 16 before Ivan Lazarev free throws put 51-36 on the scoreboard at halftime.
Hodge and Mahkovic traded baskets twice to start the second half. Marinovic made it 58-40 from downtown. Zenit responded with four baskets from four different players to get within 10. Salin knocked down a three and Mahkovic scored after his own steal to restore a comfortable margin, 63-48. Valiev, with a steal and three-point play, and Vikhrov kept Zenit in the game. Salin converted a four-point play before Alen Omic got involved with 4 points. Jones and Marinovic traded threes to make it 76-61 through three quarters. Jones and Borovnjak closed the gap to 76-65 before an Omic slam. Valiev then narrowed the deficit to 8. Begic kept Olimpija in control, but Kulagin made it 80-73. Ivan Lazarev drew an offensive foul from Begic and netted free throws to close the gap to 5, but fouled out on the ensuing play, after which Begic made his foul shots. Luka Rupnik made 3 of 4 from the line to keep Olimpija ahead 85-77. Jones drained a three, but Begic found Hrovat for a key bucket. However Rupnik missed twice from the charity stripe and Vikhrov and Dmitrii Gordeev instead carried Zenit to 87-84. However Kulagin missed a three that would have tied the game and Salin iced the game from the line.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014