After four even quarters, Hemofarm Stada took control in overtime to top BC Azovmash Mariupol 84-74 in their Group K opener on Tuesday. Teenage forward Milan Macvan saved the day for the hosts, scoring 8 points in the fourth quarter to deny an Azovmash comeback and stepped up with 6 more in the 14-4 overtime. Macvan finished with game-highs of 24 points and 8 rebounds and also dished 4 assists. Bojan Krstovic netted 17 points, Milivoje Bozovic produced 14, and Miljan Pavkovic added 9 points to go with 5 assists and 4 steals for Hemofarm. The teams were even in most of the statistical categories, but Hemofarm shot 31 free throws compared to Azovmash's 9, and the hosts' aggressive style finally paid off in the overtime, when Macvan and Krstovic drew fouls to decide the outcome from the line. Khalid El-Amin sparked an Azovmash surge with 8 points at the end of the third quarter and had another impressive overall performance with 20 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds for the Ukrainian champs. Serhiy Lishchuk scored 8 of his 18 points in the game's opening minutes, and played a big role in helping Azovmash even the game at the end of the regulation. He also grabbed 8 rebounds, while Dijon Thompson added 10 points for the visitors.
Azovmash wasted no time to make sure the hosts knew they came to Serbia for the win, converting their first two possessions into a layup by Thompson and a three by Lishchuk, good enough for an early 0-5 lead. Macvan opened the scoring for Hemofarm, but Lishchuk was in the zone now, as he came through with a layup and a three-point play to help Azovmash stay in front at 5-10. El-Amin grabbed an offensive rebound of his own miss and put it in to expand the lead further, but Hemofarm would turn the game completely around by stepping up on defense, as the hosts prevented Azovmash from scoring in the next six minutes. Meanwhile, Marton Bader, Krstovic and Pavkovic scored a layup each, before Pavkovic split free throws to even things up at 12-12, but the hosts weren't done yet. Krstovic and Macvan combined for 7 more Hemofarm points to complete the impressive 14-0 run and make it 19-12 before a Thompson slam ended the Azovmash drought and made it 19-14 after 10 minutes. Simonas Serapinas and Lishchuk cut the margin at the start of the second quarter before an exchange of scoring followed, as both teams continued finding their luck under the basket. A bucket by Thomson brought the visitors as close as 23-21 and though Bozovic made a three-point play on the other end, Goran Cakic was ready with another layup for Azovmash. But then Pavkovic took over to score Hemofarm's first and second triple of the night in a span of two minutes, turning 26-23 into 34-25. Hasan Rizvic and Serapinas scored the first half's last 4 points for the guests to trim the margin to 34-29 at the halftime.
Just like in the first half, Lishchuk was ready at the start of the second, dunking despite being fouled for a three-point play for the visitors. Bozovic answered with a three-point play of his own on the other end to reestablish the difference at 37-32. Richard Guinn scored 5 points for Azovmash, but Macvan and Stefan Markovic matched him, keeping the guests at a 5-point distance. Azovmash kept attacking the hosts' lead and a triple by Cakic put the guests as close as 43-42. But Hemofarm just wouldn't allow a tie, as Bozovic, Markovic and Macvan combined for 7 unanswered points for the hosts and all of a sudden it was 50-42. Azovmash needed someone to step up and that someone was El-Amin. He drilled 2 triples in less than a minute and then came through with a layup to cap a 2-10 run and finally even the score at 52-52. After a Thomson put-back at the start of the final quarter, El-Amin made another layup of his own to give Azovmash its first lead since the first quarter at 55-56. It was anybody's game now, as Macvan and Nebojsa Joksimovic scored 5 points to put Hemofarm back in front at 60-56, while Rolandas Jarutis made a three-point play for the guests to keep things close at 60-59. Macvan was good for 4 more points, matched by Serapinas and Cakic on the other end, and it was still a one-point Hemofarm lead, 64-63, with four minutes to go. Pavkovic found Bozovic for a layup, but Lishchuk nailed a triple to tie it at 66-66. Bozovic earned a trip to the line and hit both free throws, and neither team scored on the next two possessions. The guests missed on the following shot, too, but Lishchuk saved them with a block on defense and a layup on the other end to even it again at 68-68. Macvan drew a foul and had the nerves to make both free throws, but El-Amin found a way to score a layup and even it again at 70-70 with 3 seconds to go. Pavkovic had a chance to become the hero of the day, but missed a triple at the buzzer allowing the loud Hemofarm crowd to look forward to overtime.
Macvan and Krstovic took over in the extra period, combining for 7 straight points, 5 of them on free throws. Azovmash's shots were not falling any more and Macvan found an open Bozovic for a dunk that made it 79-70. Jarutis finally scored from the line for the guests, but an inspired Macvan closed the game with a three-pointer. With just over a minute left it was 82-72, and finally Macvan could relax and show his appreciation to the fans.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009