KK Zadar advanced to the ULEB Cup Last 16 round by winning its series against Azovmash Mariupol on points differential. Zadar made it to the next round by downing Azovmash Mariupol 77-60 in Croatia on Tuesday. Azovmash had a two-point lead in the series due to a 82-80 win in the 1st leg in Mariupol, Ukraine, last week. Zadar will now face either Pamesa Valencia or Panionios On Telecoms, that face each other in Valencia, Spain tomorrow. Juby Johnson led the winners with 23 points. Todor Gecevski posted a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds while Shammel Stallworth had 11 points for Zadar. Yahor Meshcharakou, Panos Liadelis and Robert Archibald each had 12 points for Azovmash. Archibald pulled down 15 boards for a double-double. Serhiy Lishchuk added 10 points for the guests. Gecevski led Zadar to a 12-4 lead but Liadelis and Meshcharakou fueled a 1-11 run that allowed Azovmash to get a 18-19 lead after 10 minutes. Ishchuk gave Azovmash its last lead, 25-27, as Johnson and Stallworth helped Zadar to regain a 35-30 halftime margin. Zadar improved its defense after the break while Stallworth and Corey Brewer allowed Zadar to get a double-digit lead, 53-43, after 30 minutes. Gecevski and an unstoppable Johnson broke the game open, 72-58, allowing all Zadar fans to celebrate a major win that came with a Last 16 berth.
Zadar shined in defense in the early going, making Azovmash go scoreless in the opening 4 minutes. Meanwhile, a big basket by Gecevski ignited a 7-0 run that he capped with a three-pointer to put Zadar ahead in the series. Azovmash had missed 8 consecutive shots, some of them in three and four-chance offenses, until Liadelis stroke from downtown. Lishchuk added a free throw by Johnson and an unstoppable Gecevski kept Zadar ahead, 12-4. Liadelis kept pacing Azovmash while Rodney Buford and a three-pointer by Oleksandr Skutyelnik brought the guests within 13-11. Meshcharakou also fired in one from beyond the arc while Archibald capped a 1-11 run with a free throw. Liadelis and Meshcharakou kept the guests ahead, 18-19, at the end of the first quarter. Johnson followed a basket with a three-pointer to restore a 23-19 Zadar edge early in the second period. A 0-6 run that Archibald capped with a layup allowed Azovmash to regain the lead, 23-25. Pankracije Barac and Lishchuk traded baskets while a put-back layup by Jure Lalic tied the game at 27-27. Johnson shined again with 5 quick points while a free throw and a basket by Stallworth gave Zadar a 35-29 margin. A free throw by Lishchuk fixed the halftime score at 35-30.
Lishchuk kept pacing Azovmash after the break and even when Johnson stroke again from downtown, free throws by Archibald brought the guests within 38-34. Zadar had improved its defense, however, as Azovmash struggled to find open shots right away. Meanwhile, Jere Macura stepped up for the hosts and soon followed Gecevski's free throw with a put-back layup to make it an eight-point game, 43-35, midway through the third quarter. Buford tried to change things with consecutive baskets but Stallworth and Brewer sank respective triples to boost the hosts' lead to 49-39. Liadelis scored again while Lishchuk added a put-back basket to bring Azovmash within 50-43, but a three-point play by Stallworth restored a double-digit Zadar margin, 53-43, after 30 minutes. Gecevski shined with a put-back layup early in the fourth quarter and even when Skutyelnik bettered it with a three-pointer, free throws by Andrej Stimac allowed Zadar to get an 11-point lead, 57-46. Time was running out for Azovmash and the guests tried to speed up their offense without much success. Meanwhile, free throws by Barac, Stimac and Gecevski sealed the outcome, 62-46, midway through the fourth quarter. Azovmash had a bitter end to an otherwise strong ULEB Cup debut season. Meanwhile, Zadar is set to keep fighting for ULEB Cup glory.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008