Zadar has made it to the Eurocup Final Eight! Zadar will keep fighting for Eurocup glory in the Final Eight in Turin, Italy next month by downing Turk Telekom 94-86 at home in Group J on Tuesday. Zadar improved to 3-2 and is already qualified due to its two wins against Unics, third at 2-3. Zadar now has the chance to win Last 16 Group J if it downs Benetton Basket Tamoil by at least 8 points. Meanwhile, Telekom dropped to 1-4 and is mathematically out of the playoff race. Desmon Farmer paced the winners with 23 points, 11 of them in the fourth quarter. Todor Gecevski added 20 while Rok Stipcevic scored 15 points and dished 8 assists for Zadar, that reached the quarterfinals of a European club competition for the first time since 2003. Michael Wright led Telekom with 21 points on 6-for-6 two-pointers. Erwin Dudley added 20 on 10-for-11 two-pointrs, Tutku Acik had 19 while Rod Blakney got 11 for the guests. Stipcevic and Jere Macura gave Zadar its first double-digit lead, 18-8. Farmer and an unstoppable Gecevski helped the hosts to make it a 16-point game, 56-40, at halftime. Dudley and Wright kept Telekom in the game throughout the second half while a three-pointer by Acik got Telekom as close as 81-75 with 4 minutes to go. Gecevski and Farmer stepped up to make Zadar seal a historical home win.
Gecevski got Zadar going with a layup, igniting a 7-0 run that he capped with a bomb from downtown. Telekom went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Blakney and Kris Lang stepped up with consecutive layups. Wright scored down low to cap a 0-6 Telekom run but Stipcevic answered from downtown to restore a 10-6 Zadar edge. Wright kept pacing Telekom but Macura dunked it and added a layup-plus-foul in a 8-0 run that Gecevski capped with his second triple to make it a double-digit game, 18-8. Wright followed free throws with a put-back layup but an unstoppable Tomislav Ruzic and three-pointers by Stipcevic and Farmer boosted the hosts' lead to 28-14. Acik made free throws and Serkan Erdogan scored off a steal but a three-point play by Ruzic allowed Zadar to keep a 31-20 margin after 10 minutes. Dudley scored twice around the basket early in the second quarter to get Telekom within 31-24. Gecevski and Asim Pars traded layups but Zadar improved its defense immediately after that. The hosts found a go-to guy in Damir Rancic, that had 4 points in a 6-1 run that made Telekom call timeout at 39-27. Acik tried to ignite the guests' comeback with a three-pointer but a red hot Rancic immediately answered from downtown while Hrvoje Peric dunked it for a 44-30 Zadar margin. Telekom only traded baskets now, but consecutive layups by Dudley and Bekir Yarangume brought the guests within 48-38. Stipcevic buried his third three-pointer and even when Acik stayed unstoppable, Farmer also buried one from downtown for a 54-40 Zadar lead. A power layup by Juby Johnson fixed the halftime score at 56-40.
Zadar rolled after the break, as Farmer sank a triple while Macura followed a put-back layup with a dunk to make it a 23-point game, 63-40. Dudley took over with consecutive baskets, igniting a 0-7 Telekom run that Wright capped with a foul shot for a 63-47 deficit. Stipcevic fed Gecevski for a dunk but the guests kept their momentum going through an unstoppable Wright. He shined with a three-point play and soon added free throws to bring Telekom back to life, 65-54. Stipcevic took over with a layup and fed Johnson for an easy basket that made the guests call timeout at 69-54. Dudley followed a jumper with a layup but another triple by Farmer and free throws by Gecevski kept Zadar way ahead, 74-58. Dudley scored again while Wright followed a layup with free throws to get Telekom as close as 74-64 after 30 minutes. Wright stayed unstoppable early in the fourth quarter but free throws by Farmer helped Zadar to restore a 76-66 edge with 8 minutes to go. Telekom needed a comeback to return to the game and Blakney tried to ignite it with consecutive three-pointers for a 79-72 deficit midway through the final period. Peric gave Zadar some fresh air with a dunk but a triple by Acik got Telekom even closer, 81-75. Farmer made free throws and Zadar improved its defense right when it mattered. Gecevski scored off a steal, added a layup and fed Farmer for a three-pointer that sealed the outcome, 92-81, with under 2 minutes remaining. Everything was said and done already, as all Zadar fans were already celebrating that their team had made it to the Eurocup Final Eight!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009