A pair of last minute three-pointers from Todor Gecevski and Pankracije Barac gave KK Zadar a 74-69 victory over Pamesa Valencia in the teams' Last 16, first leg duel on Tuesday night at Jazine Basketball Hall in Zadar, Croatia. The hosts led for much of the game and headed into the fourth quarter up 9, but an offensive collapse allowed Pamesa to open the final period with a 0-8 run and eventually take the lead. However the visitors also seemed to get cold with the game on the line and Zadar's late triples give the team a 5-point advantage to work with in next week’s return leg in Valencia. The aggregate winner of the series advances to the first-ever ULEB Cup Final Eight in April in Torino, Italy. Shamell Stallworth, who paced Zadar early with 11 first-quarter points, led Zadar with 19 points. Gecevski added 14 and Jere Macura recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Shammond Williams paced Pamesa with 19 points, Dejan Milojevic scored 12 and Ruben Douglas had 10.
Gecevski got Zadar on the board first, but Fred House quickly matched him as the game got off to a fast-paced and high-scoring start. The teams seemed to score on enarly every possession in the early going, with Milojevic giving Pamesa its first lead at 7-8. Stallworth’s first three followed by a Macura bucket made it 17-13, but the visitors came right back with a 0-6 spurt on a House three-point play and a Douglas triple. Another Stallworth triple put the hosts back on top. Corey Brewer and Williams then traded threes before Stallworth’s third triple of the opening period and his only two-pointer gave Zadar a 28-24 lead after 10 minutes. Pamesa drew fouls and Douglas and Williams combined for 5 free throws as the visitors went ahead 30-31 early in the second period, however a Jure Lalic three-point play and a Macura basket kept Zadar ahead. Albert Oliver converted a three-point play of his own to bring Valencia within 1 only to see Pankracije Barac step up with a triple and then add a pair of free throws on the next trip downcourt as the hosts surged ahead 42-34. An Andrej Stimac bucket soon stretched the lead to 9, but points from big Stanko Barac and Oliver helped Pamesa cut the gap to 46-40 at halftime.
Stanko Barac and Milojevic started the second half in style as Pamesa climbed within 3. Still Stallworth and Gecevski responded to keep Zadar in front. Against the rhythm of the game, Zadar picked up its intensity again and baskets by Brewer from downtown, Gecevski and Macura increased the margin to 62-53. Ruben Rarces free throws and a Stallworth basket made it 64-55 heading into the fourth quarter. Pamesa came out firing for the last 10 minutes as baskets from Douglas, Milojevic, House and Douglas again on consecutive possessions carried the visitors back within a single point. After over three minutes without a point, Stallworth got Zadar a basket only to see Williams tie the game at 66-66 with a nifty three-point play. As the pressure mounted, Pamesa joined Zadar in a poor-shooting display. The two teams missed the next 8 shots before Stallworth came through. However Oliver stepped up with a big triple that gave Pamesa its first lead since early in the second period, 68-69. Gecevski and Pankracije Barac answered from downtown with clutch triples that allowed Zadar to hold a 74-69 lead at the midway point of the two-game series.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008