Buducnost bags quarterfinals berth
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica dominated down the stretch to defeat Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana 79-66 at Moraca and clinch a spot in the EuroCup Quarterfinals. The hosts needed to win by at least 4 to advance, otherwise, Olimpija would have claimed the ticket to the playoffs, but Buducnost dominated the fourth quarter 21-9 to set up the celebrations. The victory gave Buducnost a 3-3 record in Group G and set it up with a quarterfinals date against Group E winner AS Monaco. Olimpija also finished at 3-3, but is third in the group on the tiebreaker. Melvin Ejim tied his career-high with 20 points to lead the Buducnost attack. Nikola Ivanovic added 17 points off the bench, Danilo Nikolic and Amedeo Della Valle netted 11 points apiece and Willie Reed scored 10. Nikolic also collected 10 rebounds and Ejim and Reed had 8 each. Jaka Blazic paced Olimpija with 18 points, Jarrod Jones added 12 and Kendrick Perry 11.
Blazic scored first for Olimpija and then the visitors jumped out to a 3-8 lead after back-to-back three-pointers by Jones and Edo Muric. Buducnost trimmed the gap through free throws by Fedor Zugic and Ejim. A second-chance Reed slam made it 11-12, but Perry responded with another three for Olimpija. The hosts stayed close with a three by Ivanovic and, after a basket in the paint by Jones, free throws by Nikolic ended the first quarter at 17-19. Buducnost tied the score with each of its first two baskets of the second quarter before Della Valle's offensive rebound and layup pushed his team in front, 23-21. Ejim and Perry traded shots with the score tied at 28-28 midway through the quarter. Ivanovic added a floater and a three to give the hosts a cushion. Blazic answered for Olimpija with 8 points in the final 3 minutes of the first half, including a game-tying three and go-ahead free throws, to give the visitors a 38-40 edge at halftime.
Ejim scored 4 of the first 5 points of the second half as Buducnost kept Olimpija scoreless for 3-plus minutes. A Rion Brown triple evened things at 43-43. Reed helped the hosts jump ahead before a three by Jones made it 47-48. Blazic and Ejim added to their respective tallies with free throws that left the score even at 53-53. Nikolic's second triple of the quarter boosted Buducnost before Jones drew Olimpija within 58-57 through three quarters. Nikolic added another three early in the fourth quarter and Della Valle also connected from deep for a 7-point advantage. Fouled shooting a three, Della Valle made the resulting free throws and, after Jones scored for the visitors, an Ejim triple gave Buducnost a 70-61 lead. Perry netted 3 free throws over the next two possessions to keep Olimpija close, but an unsportsmanlike foul committed by Jones on Ivanovic led to a double-digit advantage, 75-64, with 3 and a half minutes to go. Della Valle put the icing on the cake with a steal and layup in the final minute as Buducnost celebrated another famous victory.
Among the many major contributors for Buducnost, Melvin Ejim shined with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. He shined with 8 points in the third quarter as the hosts took the lead for good and his triple for a 70-61 advantage midway through the fourth quarter put Olimpija on the ropes.
Buducnost dominated the rebounding battle 45-31, including 15 offensive boards. The 45 rebounds marked the second-most in club history in the EuroCup. Although Buducnost was guilty of 16 turnovers, it also forced Olimpija into 13 and turned those into 18 points. The visitors had only 7 points off turnovers.
Did you know?
This marks the fourth time Buducnost has reached the EuroCup Quarterfinals. Each time its season ended at that stage. The first time was in 2012 when it fell to eventual runner-up Valencia Basket on aggregate in a two-game total points series. The following season, Buducnost was swept by that season's champion Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar and in 2018 it was eliminated by the champion-to-be, Darussafaka Istanbul.
Buducnost will visit AS Monaco in Game 1 of their EuroCup Quarterfinals series, set to begin on Tuesday, March 23. Olimpija's EuroCup campaign has come to a close.
Tuesday, March 9, 2021