Crvena Zvezda overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to beat EiffelTowers Den Bosch 90-82 and stay as the Group D uncontested leader and the only undefeated team in the ULEB Cup regular season. Crvena Zvezda got its fifth win in as many wins to lead Group D with a two-game advantage over anyone else, while the EiffelTowers dropped to 1-4. As usual, Milan Gurovic led the winners with 34 points on 10-for-18 shooting and 12 of 12 free throws. Pero Antic added 15 points while Tadija Dragicevic had 12 for Zvezda. Leon Rodgers had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting to lead EiffelTowers, while Robert Owens added 13 for the guests. Gurovic had 13 points in the opening quarter but even when Zvezda got a 22-14 lead, Kees Akerboom led a 4-12 run which allowed EiffelTowers to tie it at 26-26 after 10 minutes. A fluent offense and a rain of three-pointers - as many as 5 in the second quarter - helped the guests to get a double-digit lead, 45-55, at halftime. Zvezda quickly erased it after the break, while Gurovic had 9 points in a game-breaking 11-0 run which allowed Zvezda to get full control of the game early in the final period.
Antic opened the score with a driving layup, igniting a 7-0 run which Billy Thomas capped with a triple. Travis Young got EiffelTowers on the scoreboard with a layup which Sharone Wright followed with a basket-plus-foul, but Gurovic soon got on fire. He scored in transition, added a three-pointer and shined with a put-back for a 14-8 Zvezda lead. Rodgers kept the EiffelTowers in the game while Wright fed Sam Jones for a layup and a 14-12 deficit after 5 minutes. The guests soon entered the foul bonus and Zvezda made the most out of it. Antic and Gurovic combined for 6 free throws, while Thomas canned a pullup jumper for a 22-14 lead. EiffelTowers did not give up, as Owens and Akerboom scored from downtown in a 4-12 run which tied the game, 26-26, after 10 minutes. Gurovic kept pacing Zvezda with a dunk and a close basket, but Erik Nelson matched it in the other end. Rodgers and Owens each fired in a triple to force a Zvezda timeout at 32-38. EiffelTowers kept its momentum going, as Jones and Owens scored around the basket for a eight-point lead, 34-42. Vuk Radivojevic tried to change things with free throws and Petar Popovic added a turnaround jumper but the hosts also managed to exchange baskets now. Jos Frederiks followed a driving basket with a three-pointer, good for a 40-49 EiffelTowers lead. Radivojevic and Jones exchanged triples, but Frederiks hit another from downtown to give the guests a double-digit lead, 45-55, at halftime.
Dragicevic tried to ignit the Zvezda comeback with a triple right after the break, as the hosts had improved their defense, forcing EiffelTowers to call a quick timeout. Antonio Burks, Antic and a hyperactive Dragicevic fueled a 10-0 run which tied the game at 55-55. Wright found space for an uncontested dunk but Gurovic answered from downtown with a huge jumper and Thomas made a free throw to put Zvezda back in front, 58-57. Akerboom and Antic traded triples, and even when Dragicevic scored inside, Rodgers bettered him with a three-pointer to tie the game at 63-63. Popovic followed Gurovic's free throws with a layup, but a red hot Rodgers buried a jumper and a three-pointer off the dribble. Free throws by Gurovic helped Zvezda to keep a 71-68 edge after three quarters. He opened the final period with his second three-pointer, but the scoring pace got slower down the stretch. EiffelTowers could not find the way to the basket now, while Gurovic - who else? - scored inside and added free throws for a 78-68 Zvezda lead with under 6 minutes to go. Radivojevic stepped up with a driving layup and Dragicevic scored inside to keep the hosts fully ahead, 82-69. An off-balanced jumper by Owens and a long shot by Rodgers gave EiffelTowers some hope at 82-76, but a timeout allowed Zvezda to stay focused. Antic dunked it coming off the baseline while Burks followed a driving layup with a five-meter jumper to seal yet another Zvezda win in style.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006