The score made it look like a three-point party meant only to entertain the fans, but the 106-108 overtime road victory by Unics Kazan at Dexia Mons-Hainaut in Belgium on Tuesday could prove crucial for them and other teams in Group D. Dusko Savanovic's game-winning triple in the extra period meant that Unics improved to 4-2, tied for second place with PAOK, while Mons dropped to 1-5, tied with EiffelTowers Den Bosch. The three-victory gap between them with four games left puts Unics on the brink of advancing and Mons on the edge of elimination. And the fans in Mons no doubt had a blast until the clock finally ran out. The teams split 26 three-pointers between them while shooting 50% each from the arc. Mateen Cleaves led the winners with 21 points, while Saulius Stombergas had 20, Jarod Stevenson 17, Savanovic and Ksistof Lavrinovic 16 each. Mons was led by a trio of 20-point scorers - Shawnta Rogers with 26, including 7 triples, Kevin Houston with 23 and George Evans with 22 - while Monty Mack added 12 off the bench.
The points started flying from the first possession as Ksistof Lavrinovic buried a triple right after tipoff and Rogers nailed the first for Mons in the next minute. Stombergas hit his first from downtown before Evans made 4 points in a row to put Mons up 13-10. Ksistof Lavrinovic carried Unics until Stombergas popped again from deep for a 17-17 tie, although Evans and Houston reeled off 5 quick points in response for Mons. Lavrinovic and Rogers both buried the ball from long-distance before Savanovic ended the first quarter with a layup good for a 25-27 Unics lead. Little changed early in the second as ties and slim Unics leads were the result of open-ended scoring by both teams. In the quarter's first 3 minutes, 5 more three-pointers landed until Unics was ahead 37-43, its bigges lead yet. A relatively quiet middle of the quarter ended when Bingo Merriex and Mack joined the triples fun for Mons, but Cleaves scored 5 himself going into the break to keep Unics in charge at 53-59.
Savanovic's free throws and layups soon after halftime seemed to indicate that Unics might run away at 55-65. Soon, however, Rogers went wild with triples to start and end an 11-0 Mons blast to a new lead for the hosts, 69-67. It lasted one shot, of course a triple, too, by Petr Samoylenko, starting a 0-9 Unics reply that left the guests up 69-76. A new three-point contributor, Jim Potter of Mons, would finish the quarter from the arc to cut the Unics edge to 75-78 after three quarters. Mack opened the fourth quarter with - what else? - a three-pointer, good for a new tie that his teammate, Bertengeh Gadri-Nicholson, broke with a jumper and a dunk. Savanovic and Stevenson put Unics back ahead with 7 unanswered points, and a couple minutes later, back-to-back triples by Stombergas and Cleaves seemed to put Unics in control at 88-94. Not so, however. Houston and Rogers still had bombs left in their arsenal. The seventh of the night by Rogers brought the crowd to its feet and sent the game to overtime tied 96-96.
Both teams seemed to tired to reach the basket from the arc in the extra period as all scoring was based on two-pointers and free throws as Mons rolled ahead by 103-99. Cleaves, the shortest guy on the court, stood tallest then, driving for a pair of game-saving layups before a Sergei Chikalkin jumper gave Unics back the lead, 103-105. Houston would tie it up at the foul line before Savanovic made the only triple in OT, not to mention the last of 26 on the night, to let Unics go back to Russia thinking the elimination rounds were within its reach more than ever.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006