Crvena Zvezda registered its first win in Last 16 Group K by edging Azovmash 62-74 in Mariupol, Ukraine on Tuesday night. Zvezda improved to 1-1 and will tie for second place at the end of this round, while Azovmash is fourth at 0-2 and needs to start winning right away to keep its Final Eight dreams alive. Marko Marinovic paced the winners each 16 points. Marko Keselj had 13 while Nemanja Bjelica added 10 for Zvezda. Khalid El-Amin led Azovmash with 17 points while Simonas Serapinas added 12. Three-pointers by Oleksandr Skutelnyk gave Azovmash an 8-3 early lead. Bjelica led the guests' comeback, as an 0-8 run tied the game at 17-17 late in the first quarter. A 9-0 run that Serhiy Lishchuk capped with free throws gave Azovmash a 26-17 lead but Marinovic and Oliver Stevic brought Zvezda within 34-29 at halftime. Keselj led a game-breaking 0-17 run in which Zvezda made Azovmash commit 7 turnovers in 4 minutes. A three-pointer by Bjelica allowed Zvezda to keep a 49-57 margin after 30 minutes. El-Amin tried to change things for Azovmash but a three-pointer by Tadija Dragicevic sealed the outcome, 58-67, with less than 2 minutes to go.
Goran Cakic got Azovmash going with a layup, as Azovmash made Zvezda go scoreless in the opening 2 minutes. Andre Owens fired in a three-pointer but Skutelnyk answered twice from downtown for a 8-3 Azovmash margin. Lawrence Roberts and Lishchuk traded baskets, as Zvezda adjusted its defense. Meanwhile, Keselj and Owens stepped up with consecutive layups for a 10-9 deficit. Dijon Thompson nailed a triple and Serapinas also joined the three-point shootout to boost the hosts' lead to 16-9. Bjelica sank one from downtown and soon added a layup in a 0-8 Zvezda run that Vladimir Stimac capped with a basket that tied it at 17-17. Free throws by El-Amin put Azovmash back ahead, 19-17, after 10 minutes. Lishchuk dunked it right at the start of the second quarter while El-Amin added a three-pointer to make Zvezda call timeout at 24-17. Lishchuk kept pacing Azovmash with free throws that Stevic matched in the other end. The guests tried to open the court with Dragicevic on court but free throws by Hasan Rizvic kept Azovmash way ahead, 28-19. Marinovic stepped up with a layup and soon added a three-pointer to bring the guests back to life, 28-24. Azovmash had been scoreless for more than 4 minutes already while Stevic got Zvezda even closer, 28-26. Richard Guinn took over with a triple but Marinovic copied him to keep Zvezda within 32-29. A dunk by Serapinas fixed the halftime score at 34-29.
The hosts struggled to score right after the break. Meanwhile, Keselj nailed a three-pointer and then followed Elmedin Kikanovic's basket with a fast break layup to give Zvezda its first lead, 34-37. Azovmash called timeout but Kikanovic scored again and Roberts struck from downtown. Free throws by Marinovic and Keselj capped a game-breaking 0-17 run for a 34-46 Zvezda margin. Azovmash had committed 7 turnovers in 4 minutes until El-Amin shined with a three-point play. Serapinas added a triple but Keselj and Roberts restored a 12-point Zvezda edge, 40-52. Thompson took over with a put-back dunk and Serapinas buried a triple to get the crowd involved at 45-54. Rolandas Jarutis and Lishchuk sank free throws but Bjelica beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to restore a 49-57 Zvezda margin after 30 minutes. Stevic and El-Amin traded layups early in the fourth quarter. Rizvic scored down low, as Azovmash improved its defense right when it mattered. El-Amin nailed a triple but Marinovic immediately answered from downtown while a put-back layup by Stevic gave Zvezda some fresh air, 56-64, with 4 minutes to go. El-Amin scored again but Dragicevic answered from downtown to seal the outcome, 58-67. Azovmash did not recover, as Zvezda returned back home to Belgrade, Serbia with a critical road win.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009