Spirou Basket of Belgium flirted with some fourth-quarter danger before pouring on the offense to win Group F in style, downing PGE Turow of Poland 89-69 on Tuesday. Spirou finished with the same 5-1 record as second-place Red Star of Serbia, but won the tiebreak between them for having had a higher victory margin - by a total of 4 points - in the head-to-head games they split. First place seemed in jeopardy for a moment in the final quarter as Turow, down by double digits much of the game, suddenly was within 62-61, but Spirou woke up and pulled away with solid defense to the finish. A well-distributed Spirou offense saw Matt Walsh put up 17 points among five double-digit scorers. Jure Lalic added 12 points, while Jonathon Tabu, Len Matela and Justin Hamilton had 11 each. Five Spirou players had 2 or more assists, too. For Turow, Alex Harris was the big gun with 18 points, including 11 of 11 free throws. Damir Miljkovic chipped in 12 points and Gorjan Radonjic 10, but the Polish club was going home early just one year after making it all the way to the ULEB Cup Final Eight.
Spirou followed Lalic and Hamilton, who made a three-pointer and a layup each, to a quick 10-4 advantage. The hosts resisted with free throws for awhile even though Bryan Bailey's three-point play the hard way got Turow within 15-11. Matela came in and dunked before Wes Wilkinson finished off the quarter with a triple and Spirou in charge at 25-15. Matela's free throws behind a triple by Tabu let Spirou double the score at 30-15 to start the second quarter, but Turow resumed its scoring thanks to Radonjic and Harris. Still, when Walsh dunked and Pankracije Barac joined Spirou's scorers, the hosts toook several 16-point advantages before settling on a 47-36 halftime lead. Low scoring after the break ended as Andre Riddick dunked and Walsh struck from downtown to boost the difference to 52-38. Harris mounted a response for Turow, leading a 2-8 surge that, when Miljkovic added a triple and Bailey free throws, got the visitors back within single digits, 58-51. Lalic returned for Spirou with 3 free throws before Wilkinson's layup left a 62-53 scoreboard after 30 minutes. Turow was far from vanquished, however, and opened the final quarter with a 0-8 flurry - triples by Radonjic and Robert Witka around free throws by Harris - that suddenly made it 62-61. Barac answered from downtown for Spirou to save the lead, and when Witka hit from deep again for Turow, Matela was ready with the same three-point response at 70-64. Turow closed within 72-68 again, but Riddick, Hamilton and finally Tabu from long range proved too much for the visitors as Spirou re-opened its double-digit advantage on the way to clinching first place in Group F.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009