For 16 minutes the world looked good for ratiopharm Ulm as it led against Buducnost VOLI Podgorica by as many as 10 points and was holding two of its opponent’s leaders to zero points. Then Nikola Ivanovic went off and Justin Cobbs later picked up the pace as well and Buducnost advanced to reach the Top 16.
Ivanovic ended the game with 19 points and Cobbs tallied 11 points in a 73-77 win for Buducnost at Ulm to lock up a spot in the next stage of the competition. The guard duo was clearly the spark.
Buducnost came into the game lacking focus and energy in the first quarter and watched as Ulm surged ahead by 12 points and was leading 32-22 with less than 4 minutes left in the second quarter. Ivanovic had missed all three of his shots and Cobbs was 0 for 4 from the field. But all that changed with Ivanovic’s driving layup with 3:20 minutes left in the first half to make it 32-26. He added another basket and later tied the game at 35-35 with a jumper before Cobbs scored his first points of the game to finish a 3-15 run and send Buducnost into the locker room up 35-37.
Ivanovic built on his strong finish to the second quarter and scored Buducnost’s first 4 points of the second half. Cobbs added 4 points as well before an Ivanovic three-pointer finished off a 0-7 spurt to close the third quarter with the guests up 49-55. Cobbs and Ivanovic both knocked down important three-pointers in the final frame to keep Ulm at an arm’s length and Ivanovic iced the game with 2 free throws with 15 seconds left.
"They made some individual plays, we even played some solid defense, but the individual quality of Cobbs and Ivanovic made the difference in the end,” remarked Ulm head coach Jaka Lakovic after the game.
For 16 minutes, Lakovic’s men had bottled up the dynamic duo. But one could sense Buducnost’s increasing confidence every time another shot by Ivanovic or Cobbs would fall. And in the end, that would help Buducnost to the victory - and a return to the Top 16.