Buducnost of Podgorica suffered for it, but managed to take its first Euroleague win of the season by defeating Zalgiris Kaunas at home, 106-102 after overtime in Group B on Thursday. The decisive performance by John Brown and the good two-point shooting percentage of the hosts, who made 32 of 43 attempts, were the keys of the win that leaves Buducnost with a 1-4 record, just like Zalgiris. Brown led Buducnost with 27 points, Aleksandar Pavlovic added 22, Bojan Bakic 19 and Ivan Koljevic 14. For Zalgiris, Saulius Stombergas was superb with 33 points and Gintaras Einikis added 13.
The duel started with quick offensive plays on both sides, and the score soon climbed to 10-8, with Koljevic scoring 5 of the 10 points of the hosts. The rhythm was fast and Carrawell jumped for a layup that put Zalgiris ahead for the first time, 13-14. The small men of both sides were the major contributors due to the speed of the game, and the attempts to build long plays were rather scarce. A jumper by Pavlovic that meant his 7th point tied the game again at 16-16, but a quick transition of the guests ended with a three by Stombergas for 16-20, at the same time that the game started to settle down little by little, decreasing the frenzy of the first minutes. Kornel David started to become a reference for the guests under the boards, while Buducnost still relied on his perimeter players as the main offensive resource. The team with best reasults was Zalgiris, who managed to forge a small lead, cut by Bakic with a buzzer-beater for 27-30 after 10 minutes.
A couple steals and threes was what Zalgiris needed at the start of the second to forge a 30-38 lead. Buducnost was shooting better from the field with 10 of 14 to the 9 of 15 of Zalgiris, but the better percentages from the three-point range of the guests, 4-for-6, made the difference. Walsh Jordan moved the ball with criteria and Bakic solved all the situations with good movements under the board, to become an important contributor for his team. Yet another layup by Bakic, which was his fifth of five attempts, put his team back in the game, 38-39. The hosts improved in defense with constant helps, and Zalgiris didn't know what to do with the ball, collecting turnovers and bad shots in the final minutes of the second period, but Buducnost didn't know how to take clear advantage of that, missing on the offensive end, and at the break, Zalgiris was ahead by 2, 46-48 after a jumper by David.
The young combo formed by Bakic and Pavlovic hit hard after resumption, and with 6 quick points put Buducnost ahead again, 52-50, and if that wasn't enough, each of them hit a three-pointer for 58-52 that forced the timeout by coach Algirdas Brazys. Zalgiris depended on isolated plays, and that was not enough against the much improved defense of the Yugoslavs. A fastbreak slammed by Brown forged the first double-digit lead for the hosts, 62-52, and Zalgiris tried the zone defense. And it worked. A quick 2-8 run put the Lithuanians close at 64-60 in a flash, but Pavlovic and Brown, who had been rather inactive until then, rallied back for Buducnost for 70-61, which became 74-62 after 30 minutes in a 28-14 partial score.
The decisive period started with the same set as in the first minutes of the game. Both teams run in offense, but the efficicency was not the same of the first quarter, and the lead of the hosts stayed at 12 points, 86-74, and that was the moment in which Zalgiris started to base its game in shooting from the arc to try to erase the deficit in the quick way, and Stombergas left his team at 86-80 with 4 minutes to go. The ball was in Zalgiris' hands and the fans of Podgorica started to get worried when they saw that their team wasn't able to pull away for good. So did coach Vlado Djurovic who had to call a timeout to re-distribute his players on court. The deficit decreased to 86-83 with another layup by Stombergas, and a three by himself tied the game in the following play, 86-86. The last seconds of the game were chaos. Brown hit a reverse jumper for 88-86 and in the following play, Zalgiris committed a turnover, but so did Buducnost in the next play, so the ball was for the guests again and 25 seconds to go. Each step in the game was discussed on both benches with constant timeouts, as the game was to be decided soon. With 12 seconds to go, the ball was still for the guests, but Einikis missed two straight shots until David was sent to the free throw line. He scored both to tie at 88-88 and Bakic missed an impossible layup that would send the game to overtime.
In the extra session, Buducnost was superior thanks to the duo formed by Jordan and Brown, especially the latter who scored points and pulled boards at ease for 99-92 and 1 minute and 20 seconds to go. Stombergas was the option seeked by Zalgiris, but it wasn't enough. A three by Salenga would put Zalgiris at 102-97, while Jordan missed two free throws. Two more free throws by Koljevic put Buducnost at 104-99, but a three-point play by Stombergas made it 104-102, but Koljevic repeated from the free throw line for the final 106-102.
Wednesday, November 6, 2002