Road warriors Zielona Gora shock and eliminate Unics
Despite going on the road for Game 2 of the eighthfinals with a 4-point deficit from the first game, Polish champion Stelmet Zielona Gora stunned Unics Kazan 54-71 and clinched a place in Eurocup quarterfinals on Wednesday. Zielona Gora lost Game 1 on home floor 68-72, but overcame the deficit with a 17-point victory in Kazan and won 139-126. After both teams traded big runs in the first half, Zielona Gora used a 0-11 spurt to end the third quarter, grab 43-52 lead and never look back. Unics never came closer than 6 points, and when it looked like the hosts might attempt another rally, Zielona Gora closed the game with 7 straight points. Mateusz Ponitka scored all of his 18 points in the second half, Dee Bost netted 17 points with 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, while Vlad Moldoveanu netted 12 in victory. Kostas Kaimakoglou had 12 points for Unics, and Anton Ponkrashov collected 10 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in defeat.
Ponkrashov opened the scoring with a three-pointer, Kaimakoglou made a pair of baskets, befoe Valeriy Likhodey strung together 7 points to open 16-7 margin. However, Moldoveanu scored 6 consecutive points, including a three-pointer, and Bost scored to cut it to 18-15 after 10 minutes. Quino Colom hit a triple to start second quarter, and Vadim Panin hit from long range, too, making it 24-17 on the night, and an 11-point lead in the series. But Moldoveanu scored on back-to-back possessions, and after Bost finished a fast break to continue the run, Karol Gruszecki hit for three and Lukasz Koszarek for two points to make it 24-28. Ponkrashov snapped a 0-11 run, and Kaimakoglu put Unics back in front as the hosts held 33-29 at halftime, which meant Unics had 8-point lead on aggregate.
Back-to-back threes from Bost and Ponitka helped Zielona Gora to 33-37. Latavious Williams and Keith Langford kept Unics within single possession, and Colom's triple put hosts in front 42-41. But Ponitka hit a three, added two more baskets, before Koszarek also scored twice to make it 43-52 at the end of third quarter. Williams made a three-point play for the hosts, but Koszarek and Przemyslaw Zamojski hit back-to-back from long range to open 46-58 lead early in the fourth, which translated to an 8-point advantage in the series. A pair of Ponitka baskets extended it to 48-62 with 6 minutes to go. Kaimakoglou and Ponkrashov hit from long range for Unics, but Bost and Ponitka combined to score 7 consecutive points, increase the lead to 54-71, and send Zielona Gora into the quarterfinals.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016