|iurbentia Bilbao Basket bounced back from its first-ever loss in European club competitions and rejoined the fight to reach the Final Eight in Last 16 Group L by beating Spirou Basket 59-79 in front of a sellout crowd in Charleroi, Belgium on Tuesday night. Bilbao and Spirou join a three-way tie for first place in this group, each with a 2-1 record. Bilbao josts Spirou in Week 4, in what already is a critical game for the Group L outcome. Marko Banic led the winners with 22 points. Javi Salgado and Drago Pasalic each added 14 while Renaldas Seibutis had 10 for Bilbao. Jerry Johnson had 14 points for Spirou, Wes Wilkinson added 12 while Len Matela got 10 for the hosts. Pasalic and Banic shined early to make Bilbao get a 15-20 edge after 10 minutes. A 9-0 run that Wilkinson capped with a triple gave Spirou its last lead, 24-20. Janis Blums and former Spirou guard Predrag Savovic helped Bilbao to tie the game, 30-30, at halftime. Banic took over right after the break for an 11-point Bilbao margin, 37-48. Matela, Johnson and Jonathan Tabu brought Spirou back to life, 52-56, after 30 minutes. Bilbao shined in defense throughout the fourth quarter while Salgado and Banic helped Bilbao to break the game open, 54-68, and cruise to a well-deserved win.
Pasalic got Bilbao going with free throws and a wild dunk but Wilkinson followed a three-pointer with a put-back slam for a 5-4 Spirou edge. Pasalic kept pacing Bilbao while Banic scored around the basket for a 5-8 Bilbao lead. Bilbao kept its frontcourt involved but a fast break dunk by Justin Hamilton kept Spirou within 9-12. Seibutis made free throws and matched Matela's close basket with a layup, good for an 11-16 Bilbao lead. The guests tried to slow down the game tempo and stayed focused in defense, but Johnson and Matela shined with consecutive baskets. Banic and Salgado stepped up with free throws to restore a 15-20 Bilbao margin at the end of the first quarter. Spirou tried to play more physical with Andre Riddick, Matela and Pankracije Barac together on court. Both teams went scoreless for almost 3 minutes until Riddick sank a foul shot. Hamilton added a layup to get Spirou within 18-20. Bilbao kept struggled to score with Hamilton nailed a three-pointer to complete Spirou's comeback, 21-20. Janis Blums sank a jumper while a layup by Paco Vazquez tied the game at 24-24. Wilkinson gave Spirou some fresh air with free throws but Banic nailed a jumper while Savovic struck from downtown to put Bilbao back ahead, 26-29. Johnson followed a free throw with a triple for a 30-30 tie at halftime.
Quincy Lewis nailed a three-pointer right after the break while Seibutis scored off a steal for a 30-35 edge. Johnson buried a long jumper but Salgado improved it with a seven-meter bomb. Banic followed free throws with a backdoor layup to make Spirou call timeout at 34-43. A three-point play by Johnson got the crowd involved but Lewis beat the shot clock buzzer with a wild triple while Pasalic scored down low for an 11-point Bilbao edge, 37-48. Sacha Massot shined with a power layup that Banic improved with a three-point play. Matela and Massot stepped up with back-to-back layups but a put-back basket by Salgado kept Bilbao out of trouble, 43-53. Tabu tried to bring Spirou back to life but Vazquez beat the hosts' 2-3 zone defense with a triple. A jumper by Matela and a step-back triple by Johnson got Spirou within 52-56 after 30 minutes. Banic scored again early in the fourth quarter while a driving layup by Seibutis restored a 52-60 edge. Matela shined with a layup that Pasalic erased with a dunk. Guardia scored in the low post to make Spirou call timeout at 54-64. Salgado fed Banic for another easy basket and then found Pasalic for a dunk that sealed the outcome, 54-68, with 4 minutes to go. Everything was said and done already, as Bilbao returned home with a pivotal road win.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009