Zvezda shoots its way past Bilbao, into Eightfinals
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade claimed a place in the next stage after hitting big shots late in the game and rallying from the fourth quarter deficit to edge Bilbao Bakset on the road 81-85 on Wednesday night. Victory improved Zvezda to 4-1 in Group L, and will play for the first place against Nizhny Novgorod next week, while Bilbao drops to 2-3 and is eliminated from contention. Bilbao led 73-66 with under 5 minutes to go, but Tadija Dragicevic hit one, and Jaka Balzic a pair of triples in the final 2 minutes to rally the visitors and lift them to victory. Blazic scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, shooting triples 4 of 4, while Dragicevic finished with 16 points plus 7 rebounds. DeMarcus Nelson had 13 points and 6 assists, while Boban Marjanovic and Ivan Radenovic scored 11 apiece. Alex Mumbru netted 18 for Bilbao. Roger Grimau had 15, German Gabriel 13, while Fran Pilepic and Dairis Bertans each scored 11 in defeat.
Back-to-back triples from Jaka Blazic and Ivan Radenovic helped Zvezda to 2-8. Axel Hervelle and Alex Mumbru got Bilbao going, but a triple from DeMarcus Nelson and more baskets from Blazic and Radenovic extended it to 8-15. German Gabriel hit a triple and a jumper on the other end, but Rasko Katic inside, and Tadija Dragicevic from the distance helped the visitors to 17-25 after 10 minutes. Fran Pilepic opened the second quarter with a three-pointer, and Gabriel’s jumper helped the hosts close within 24-25. Branko Lazic answered with a three-pointer, but Gabriel’s floater and Pilepic’s triple gave Bilbao 29-28 advantage. Dragicevic answered right back with his second three-pointer, and Boban Marjanovic scored from close range, but Raul Lopez hit from behind the arc for 33-33. In the final 2 minutes of the quarter, Nelson and Lopez converted fastbreaks with easy uncontested baskets, while Radenovic and Gabriel each scored from close range, ending the first half in a 37-37 tie.
Marjanovic and Nelson put together a 0-9 run to put Zvezda up 41-46 in the third quarter, and Blazic hit his second triple for 44-51. Dairis Bertans and Gabriel kept the hosts in touch, and Mumbru’s 4 free throws help cut it to 55-57, but Dragicevic hit a corner triple to get Zvezda into the fourth quarter up 57-60. Bilbao tied it at 62-62 after 3 minutes in the fourth with a basket-plus-foul from Roger Grimau. Another basket-plus-free throw from the same player, and a layup from Bertans put Bilbao in front 69-64, and Grimau’s foul shots made it a 7-point game, which was the margin of Zvezda’s win in the first head-to-head clash. But the visitors were not paying attention, as Dragicevic hit another triple, and Nelson added a jumper. After Grimau drove for a layup and 75-70, Blazic did the same on the other end, before Dragicevic nailed his third triple, and Blazic buried one from the left corner for 75-78. Grimau scored for the hosts, but Blazic hit from long range making it a 4-point game. Mumbru hit from way downtown to get Bilbao to 80-81 with 15 seconds remaining, but Blazic and Nelson hit free throws in the final seconds to seal the deal, sending Crvena Zvezda to the Eighthfinals.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014