Zadar made it to the elimination rounds in Group I by thrashing Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem 103-75 at home on Tuesday. Zadar improved to 5-4 to take sole possession of the second place in Group I. Zadar clinched a por in the elimination rounds, too, as EiffelTowers Den Bosch beat Strasbourg. Meanwhile, Hapoel dropped to 4-5 and is in a complicated situation in this group due to its tie break disadvantage against Unics Kazan and Strasbourg. Julius Johnson led the winners with 17 points. Andrej Stimac and Corey Brewer each added 13, Jere Macura posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds while Jure Lalic and Todor Gecevski had 10 points apiece for Zadar. Noel Felix led Hapoel with 20 points on 9-for-14 two-pointers. Guy Pniny added 15 while Dror Hagag had 11 for the guests. Zadar opened the game with a 15-5 run, while Shammel Stallworth and an unstoppable Johnson soon boosted the hosts' margin to 33-17 after 10 minutes. Pniny and Felix gave Hapoel some hope, 41-30, early in the second quarter. Stimac and Johnson led a 16-0 run that broke the game open, 59-31, at halftime. Hapoel never recovered, allowing all Zadar fans to enjoy a very important home win.
Erez Markovich and Pniny paced Hapoel in the early going, but Zadar soon found its double-digit lead. Macura scored inside, igniting a 9-0 run highlighted by Gecevski's triple. Back-to-back baskets by Johnson gave the hosts a 15-5 lead. Pniny and Felix tried to change things for Hapoel but Johnson and Stallworth stroke from downtown in a 12-0 run that broke the game open, 29-13. Johnson allowed Zadar to keep a 33-17 margin after 10 minutes. The game turned into a three-point shootout early in the second quarter. Stallworth, Yehu Orland, Lalic, Ramel Curry and Pniny scored from downtown for a 39-26 score. A put-back layup by Felix got Hapoel even closer, 41-30. Zadar did not panic, as Rok Stipcevic, Stimac and Johnson led a game-breaking 16-0 run that Macura capped with a put-back basket, enough for Hapoel to get a mamooth 59-32 halftime margin. Gecevski followed a close basket with a triple to make it a 31-point game, 64-33, right after the break. Pniny tried to change things with 5 quick points while Felix and Hagag got Hapoel within 68-44. Zadar kept rolling, however, as Brewer and Stimac stepped up for the hosts. Stipcevic buried another three-pointer while a put-back basket by Stimac gave Zadar a 77-51 edge after 30 minutes. The outcome was already clear, especially when Stipcevic, Brewer and Lalic restored a 33-point Zadar lead, 86-53. Hapoel fought for points differential now but Zadar kept full control with an organized offense and strong defense. Everything was said and done, as Zadar celebrated a major home win and almost eliminated a direct opponent in the process.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008