Uxue Bilbao Basket took over its own fate in the Last 16 by posting a strong 69-83 road win against CEZ Nymburk on Tuesday in the Czech Republic. Bilbao is now tied in first place with Valencia Basket and VEF Riga, all with 3-2 records. Bilbao hosts Riga in the sixth and final game of the Last 16 next week; a win or a loss by Valencia would put Bilbao in the quarterfinals. With the loss on Tuesday, Nymburk fell to 1-4 and is eliminated from the competition. A 7-29 run by Bilbao bridged the first two quarters and put the visitors in control for the rest of the game. When Nymburk fought back to within 69-75 with 2:20 to play, Bilbao made sure with a game-ending 0-8 run. Milan Rakovic led the winners with 18 points on near-perfect shooting, 7 for 8 inside the arc and 4 for 4 at the foul line. Kostas Vasiliadis added 17 points and Nikos Zisis 11 for Bilbao, while Axel Hervelle had 9 points, 8 rebounds. Radoslav Rancik topped Nymburk's scorers again with 19 points, while Petr Benda added 17 and Vojtech Hruban 11. Jiri Welsch dished 9 assists.
A basket-for-basket battle at the start of the game saw Benda's trio of inside baskets stake a 10-6 advantage for Nymburk. A three-point play by Vasiliadis off an offensive rebound by Axel Hervelle drew Bilbao within 11-9. The same duo soon combined for 5 points in a row to put Bilbao in front, 14-16, forcing a Nymburk timeout. A pair of two-pointers and free throws by Rakovic quickly made it a 1-13 Bilbao run to a 15-24 lead after one quarter. Bilbao made it a double-digit difference, 21-34, on back-to-back triples by Fran Pilepic and Roger Grimau early in the second quarter. The Bilbao onslaught continued until Grimau made it 21-40, whereupon Nymburk retaliated with 11 unanswered points punctuated by 2 triples from Hruban. Bilbao went to Lamont Hamilton to retake a double-digit lead at 32-44. After twin baskets by Rancik for Nymburk, Vasiliadis and Hervelle returned with back-to-back triples to send Bilbao to halftime with a commanding 36-54 lead.
Nymburk came out pouring in points to try to make up the difference, but even after Jiri Welsch's third assist in succession, on a triple by Rancik, had only closed the gap to 47-62. And Adrien Moerman immediately answered with a three-point play to restore the 18-point halftime lead, 47-65. Nymburk turned to defense then as Rancik and Drew Naymick fueled a 9-0 run that trimmed the difference in half, to 56-65 at the end of the third quarter. Nymburk's defense kept Bilbao scoreless for a full 7 minutes until Alex Mumbru blasted a three-pointer to make it 58-68. Lukas Palyza answered from downtown for the hosts, before Welsch and Benda were able to cut the difference to 67-73 with 4:17 to play. Almost 2 scoreless minutes ended with free throws from Zisis for Bilbao followed by a basket from Rancik at 69-75. It was all Bilbao after that however, with a game-ending 0-8 run that ended Nymburk's season and put the visitors in a three-way battle for the quarterfinals.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013