The Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria, Spain will make a fashion statement of basic black during the Eurocup Finals after Bizkaia Bilbao Basket survived a 46-52 home loss to CEZ Nymburk to advance from their two-game quarterfinal series by an aggregate lead of 6 points. Bilbao had won the first game by 11, and was not in serious danger of seeing that difference eclipsed until the next-to-last minute, when Mike Lenzly's free throws made it 45-52. Alex Mumbru answered with a free throw, however, and Bilbao's defense held the rest of the way to point the hosts down the road to Vitoria-Gasteiz and the semifinals on April 17. Bilbao will play Alba Berlin in the semis on April 17 in Vitoria. In a defensive-minded Game 2 of their quarterfinal, Arthur Lee led Nymburk to victory with 12 points and 4 assists. Petr Bendad added 10 and Lenzly 8 in the second half, but the visitors were hurt by 4-for-18 three-point accuracy. Bilbao was worse, making only 2 of 16 from the arc as Marko Banic had 12 points and Mumbru 10 for the hosts. Bilbao makes the Eurocup semifinals for a second consecutive season, its first two in international competition.
Phil Ricci's short basket for Nymburk held up as the only points for 2 minutes before Mumbru and Chris Warren scored in close for Bilbao's first lead. Benda tied for Nymburk, but Warren restored the lead for Bilbao. That only lasted until Ronald Lewis canned the game's first triple, puttin the guests up 6-7. The lead see-sawed back and forth on a layups by Banic sandwiched around another by Benda. Mumbru seemed to win the quarter for Bilbao with another strong drive, but Arhtur Lee appeared then to pump in another triple to forge a tie. Mumbru answered with a final free throw, however, to keep the hosts up 13-12 after 10 minutes. Radek Necas and Lee combined to steal back a 13-16 lead with layups to open the second quarter. Nymburk's defense held steady as Benda added a two-pointer and Lee 3 of 3 free throws to suddenly make it 13-21. The visitors' 0-9 run was ended as Janis Blums launched and landed a big triple for Bilbao, but Necas fed Benda for 2 more points and a 16-23 Nymburk advantage. Nymburk's incredible run ended with Michal Kremen burying his first shot from way downtown to make it a double-digit lead, although Banic got a pair back at the foul line, lowering the difference to 18-26 at the half.
Renaldas Seibutis got Bilbao off on the right foot after halftime with his first points of the night, a layup-plus-free throw. That seemed to unstick the hosts' offense as Mumbru scored again before Seibutis struck from downtown and Banic inside to forge a 28-28 tie. Nymburk didn't sit still, but got a big four-point triple and free throw combination from Mike Lenzly, who had also initiated his scoring since the start of the second half. When Pavel Pumprla dunked, the guests were up again by 28-34. Mumbru, Seibutis and Javi Rodriguez again rallied Bilbao to take the lead, but Lee finished the third quarter with a buzzer-beater to keep the visitors in front, 35-36. Although Lewis opened the final quarter with a basket for Nymburk, Banic and Axel Hervelle quickly re-took the lead for Bilbao. The lead exchanged hands four times again on shots by Benda and Ricci for Nymburk, Blums and Salgado for Bilbao. Ricci's next layup made it 43-44 and Nymburk started adding to the lead this time. Lee scored again, then back-to-back baskets from Pumprla were followed by Lenzly's free throws with just over a minute left, making it 46-52. There, however, the Nymburk challenge stopped, as Mumbru's basket assured a series victory and a second consecutive semifinals appearance for Bilbao.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010