Olimpija needs 15 threes to edge Buducnost
Edo Muric's three-pointer with 46 seconds remaining was the last of seven lead changes in the fourth quarter alone as Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana held on for a 74-71 victory over Buducnost VOLI Podgorica at Arena Stozice on Tuesday night. It was also the 15th three of the game for Olimpija to set a club record as the team improved to 1-1 in Group G and dropped Buducnost to the same record. Muric finished with a season-high 16 points, as did Kendrick Perry who also dished 10 assists. Jarrod Jones added 14 points, Jaka Blazic scored 10 and Mikael Hopkins tallied 7 points and 9 rebounds. Amedeo Della Valle and Willie Reed scored 11 each for Buducnost and Luka Mitrovic and Justin Cobbs netted 10 apiece.
Olimpija controlled the opening tip and went right ahead on a Jones three-pointer. After a slow start, back-to-back threes by Justin Cobbs and Della Valle gave the visitors their first lead, 7-8. The hosts regained control through triples from Perry and Blazic. After Melvin Ejim tied it with another Buducnost three, Mitrovic's steal and layup made it 14-16 after 10 minutes. Nikola Ivanovic's jumper stretched the lead to 5 and – despite a three-pointer by Luka Rupnik, Ivanovic continued to shine with another score and a fantastic assist to Petar Popovic that made it 17-23. Popovic knocked down a three and a long jumper to extend the lead to 21-28 before Olimpija called timeout. Free throws by Jones and Perry trimmed the deficit before Perry struck from downtown to bring Olimpija within 33-34 at the halftime break.
Jones started the second half like the first with a shot from downtown and a Mikael Hopkins three tied it at 39-39. Muric's second three of the game put Olimpija up 44-41. Cobbs scored twice and fed Wilie Reed as Buducnost regained the lead. Rion Brown heated up for the hosts to make it 51-49 before the visitors called timeout. Ejim's free throws lifted Buducnost to 53-55 at the end of the third quarter. A three-point play by Mitrovic extended the margin to 56-60. Perry sandwiched a layup and a free throw around a Jones three to edge Olimpija in front again. Jones gave the hosts a 69-67 edge with his fourth three of the night. Mitrovic tied it with a put-back and Reed's free throw made it 69-70 with 63 seconds to play. Muric answered with a three-pointer on the next play. Ivanovic split free throws with 23.7 seconds on the clock, but Buducnost quickly fouled Blazic, who also split foul shots. Cobbs missed a long jumper in the closing seconds Olimpija celebrated the victory.
Kendrick Perry finished with 16 points and 10 assists for his second double-double of the season and he did much of that damage with the game in the balance. After his free throws broke a 62-62 tie with 4:26 remaining, Perry assisted on his team's next three baskets, including Edo Muric's go-ahead triple in the final minute. Perry tallied 5 points and 5 assists in the fourth quarter.
Buducnost had a higher collective performance index rating than Olimpija, 84-74. What made the difference for the home team was its excellent three-point shooting. Olimpija set a club record with 15 triples and made them at a 46.9% clip. Buducnost was just 5 for 18 (27.8%) from behind the arc.
Stellar in defeat
Luka Mitrovic had an outstanding game in defeat for Buducnost. The 27-year-old forward set or tied his EuroCup career-highs with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals for a PIR of 21, despite only playing 19 minutes. He had 5 points and 5 rebounds in the fourth quarter to put his team in position to try to win it late.
Buducnost will be back on the road in Top 16 Round 3 when it visits Virtus Segafredo Bologna on Tuesday, January 26. Olimpija will host a second straight game when it takes on JL Bourg en Bresse the following day.
Tuesday, January 19, 2021