Spartak St. Petersburg is the first team in the Eurocup Finals! The Russian team defeated CEZ Nymburk also in Game 2 of the quarterfinal series by 86-71 and punched its ticket for the final event of the season, to take place in Khimki, Russia, on April 14 and 15. Spartak had also won Game 1 in the Czech Republic by 64-68. The rival of Spartak in semis will be BC Khimki. Good accuracy from the three-point line helped Spartak build and keep a safe lead in the first half, and it only increased little by little in the second half as the hosts secured the win. Yotam Halperin and Janis Strelnieks led the winners with 19 points apiece, the latter having not missed any of its 8 field goals including three triples. Valery Likhodey contributed 11 to the win. Tre Simmons led all scorers with his 22 points, Pavel Pumprla had 17 and Lamayne Wilson posted 15. Spartak's 14 threes tied for second place in the ranking for the most three-pointers made by a team in a quarterfinals game, matching those of Montepaschi Siena on March 6, 2007 against Unics. The record is still 18 by Valencia Basket since February 25, 2003 against KK Zadar.
A three by Tre Simmons opened fire for CEZ Nymburk but two straight threes by Valery Likhodey led Spartak in a comeback for a
10-6. Six straight points by Yotam Halperin, including two more threes, kept the guests in the driving seat as Nymburk was
relentlessly trying to make up for the Game 1 deficit from the very beginning. Miha Zupan hit Spartak's fifth three in the
quarter but Petr Benda was the one to close the period with his layup for 12-18 after 10 minutes. Zupan and Janis Strelnieks
kept on insisting from the arc to make it 29-20 for Spartak but Simmons and Pavel Pumprla stroke back to keep Nymburk alive.
Both teams were having good numbers from downtown but Nymburk was struggling with turnovers, which kept the hosts ahead.
Halperin and Likhodey were the main pillars in offense for Spartak but thanks to Pumprla and Lamayne Wilson, by the halftime
break Nymburk had managed to trim the deficit down to 44-39.
The third quarter started with both teams clenching their fists, and the shootout from the arc continued on both sides. Halperin, Simmons and Likhodey were the protagonists again for a 52-44. Vladimir Dragicevic had a layup for the first double-digit lead of the game, 54-44, and then Victor Keyru blasted a new three for the 57-46.The double-digit lead prevailed until the end of the third quarter despite the collective effort by Nymburk led by Simmons, 70-56 after 30. The start of the last period was more of the same. Nymburk was trying to be back into the game at any cost but Spartak's tough defense plus the hosts' 14 threes up to that point, led by Strelnieks' 3 of 3, made it near to impossible. Two straigh threes by Simmons could only make it 78-65 as Nymburk was now struggling in offense. Pumprla scored twice from the line for 80-69 but with 3 minutes missing, the guests still had to make up for a total 15 points. Two more free throws by Patrick Beverley made it 82-69 as the game entered the last 2 minutes and the fans in the stands celebrated the passage to the final stage of the season.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012