Gran Canaria rallies to stay alive
Facing a must-win situation and elimination on a tough road floor, Herbalife Gran Canaria rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to beat Mornar Bar 81-85 on Tuesday night in Bar, Montenegro. Gran Canaria improved to 2-3 in Group H and Mornar dropped to 1-4, as both teams still have chances to progress to the quarterfinals. Mornar led by as many as 42-29 in the second quarter, but Gran Canaria caught up behind A.J. Slaughter and Tomas Dimsa before Javier Beiran turned into an unlikely hero in the fourth quarter to lead Gran Canaria to a critical victory. Slaughter paced the winners with 22 points and Dimsa finished with 15. Beiran scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and also had 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, while Matthew Costello collected 10 points plus 6 rebounds. Derek Needham had 17 points and 7 assists for Mornar. Marko Jeremic scored 15, while Nemanja Gordic and Taylor Smith scored 11 apiece in a defeat.
Needham opened the game with back-to-back triples, but Sean Kilpatrick and Aleksander Balcerowski combined to scored 10 points and put the visitors up 11-12 in the early going. A big dunk by Taylor Smith sparked Mornar's run, during which Needham and Johnny Hamilton scored inside to make it 21-14. Dimsa and Jeremic traded triples late in the first quarter, before Fabio Santana and Gordic exchange threes to start the second. Slaughter scored the next 6 points for the visitors, but Mornar extended the lead with Aleksandar Lazic taking it to the rim and Gordic feeding Smith for a dunk, before Jeremic knocked down a triple, 42-29. John Shurna answered with a triple for Gran Canaria and Slaughter had another transition layup, helping make it 48-38 at halftime.
Dimsa fueled Gran Canaria's 0-6 run to open the third quarter and after Sehovic and Shurna traded three-pointers, Dimsa fed Costello for an alley-oop dunk and made a runner to cut it to 56-51. Needham and Hamilton connected for an alley-oop dunk for the hosts, but back-to-back threes from Dimsa and Slaughter put Gran Canaria in front, 58-60. Gordic scored twice from close range before the end of the quarter to give Mornar a 64-63 edge going into the fourth. The visitors took back the lead with back-to-back threes from Costello and Slaughter, 66-69, and after a three-point play from Jeremic, Beiran scored 7 straight points, capped by a triple to make it 69-76 with 5:30 to go. Smith and Needham answered with a 7-0 run to tie it, but Slaughter had a three-point play and Beiran's corner triple with 51 seconds to go made it 78-83, helping Gran Canaria hold on.
Gran Canaria forward Javier Beiran scored a total of 10 points in the first four Top 16 games and entered the fourth quarter of this game with just 2 points to his tally. But then he scored 10 points over the final 6 minutes and 40 seconds, including two triples, to lift Gran Canaria to victory. He was 2 for 2 on two-pointers and 2 for 3 on threes and also made both free throws.
After allowing 48 points in the first half, Gran Canaria held Mornar to 3-for-14 three-point shooting and just 4 assists in the second half.
Mornar was without its injured top two scores, Jacob Pullen (knee injury) and Isaiah Whitehead (shoulder injury).
What it means
Gran Canaria would have been eliminated with a loss, but now can qualify for the quarterfinals if it wins next week and MoraBanc Andorra losses one of its last two games. Mornar, meanwhile, can also qualify if it wins next week in Round 6 while hoping UNICS Kazan wins its last two games.
In Top 16 finale, Gran Canaria will host already-qualified group leader UNICS Kazan, while Mornar will travel to face MoraBanc Andorra.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021