In an opening night with road wins aplenty for the Eurocup, it was only fitting that the last game of the day ended with Budivelnik’s 58-62 victory in Gran Canaria’s home floor, the Centro Insular de Deportes. Billy Keys scored 20 points and brought savvy leadership in crunch time to lead the visitors. Meanwhile Granca head coach Pedro Martinez’s men could not translate a 13-point effort off the bench by Sitapha Savane into their first win of the season. Budivelnik also capitalized on 11 points from Zach Morley and 10 plus 7 boards from Lawayne Wilson. The Ukrainian powerhouse hosts Siauliai in Week 2. Taurean Green added 11 points for Gran Canaria, which visits Buducnost’s home court next.
Gran Canaria enjoyed a good start, mixing things up early inside out with Green and CJ Wallace and jumping to a 7-2 lead that was soon neutralized at 7-7 after a Morley triple and Keys layup. What ensued after was a Keys clinic in court vision and managing the offense, as the sure handed playmaker guided the visitors to a 4-18 run, also built on a solid defensive effort that harassed Gran Canaria into 4 turnovers and many missed chances. At the end of the first quarter, it was 11-20 for Budivelnik. As the game slowed down in the second quarter, with the hosts providing some lock down defense of their own, so did the scoring. A drive by Denys Lukashov kept the 9-point difference for Budivelnik, but the lane was sealed for both teams after that, as trips to the foul line kept the scoring alive, and the buckets that came off penetrations were gritted out by the likes of Andy Betts and Morley for the visitors, or Gran Canaria’s Thomas Bella. With a 21-point total in the quarter, it was still a 22-30 edge for head coach Josep Maria Berrocal’s squad entering the break.
Keys was on a roll again in the third quarter, hitting consecutive three pointers for a 28-41 lead for Budivelnik, its largest of the game, but the home team did not despair, as Savane provided a spark off the bench with 5 points in the quarter and Xavi Rey tried to establish a post presence. Still, it was Green’s triple that made it 41-43 after a couple of Jim Moran free throws. And with a one possession game entering the decisive period, everyone in the building knew they were in for a thriller. Budivelnik went inside early and it was Green again attacking the visitors’ defense and getting to the line, to which Keys responded with a layup and nifty assist for a Denis Ikolev triple that closed a 4-9 run for Budivelnik. As the hosts clawed themselves back in it with a pair of defense stops, it was a Wallace three-pointer that closed the gap again to 57-58 with two minutes to go. With the game on the line, Jaycee Carroll couldn’t convert on a layup for Gran Canaria and Wilson missed a couple of free throws for Budivelnik as both teams traded ensuing turnovers. As the defenses rose to the occasion, Morley stole the ball from Bellas and Keys did not waste the opportunity to nail the jumper for his 18th point of the game, icing matters for good with a couple of free throws. It may be too soon to put the champagne on ice for Budivelnik, but a few cheers will do for this Game 1 win. A tough, though well deserved, one at that.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010