Spartak St. Petersburg became the Eurocup regular season Group G champion by edging Cedevita 68-73 in Zagreb, Croatia on Tuesday. Spartak improved to 5-0 to finish first no matter what while Cedevita dropped to 1-4 and has no chance to make it to the Last 16. Vladimir Dragicevic led the winners with 16 points on 8-of-8 two-pointers. Miha Zupan added 13 for Spartak. Miro Bilan led Cedevita with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Matjaz Smodis added 12 for the hosts. Spartak led 14-20 early in the second quarter but an outstanding Bilan led an 8-0 run that allowed the hosts to get a 27-24 edge. Patrick Beverley and Loukas Mavrokefalidis stepped up late in the first half to give Spartak a 31-37 lead at the break. A three-pointer by Smodis capped a 10-0 run and gave Cedevita its biggest lead, 50-45. Cedevita still led 65-62 with over 3 minutes left but Dragicevic and Zupan fueled a 0-9 run that allowed Spartak to win the game. Free throws by Zupan, who had his team's final 7 points, made the guests put the victory on ice with 21 seconds to go.
Ivan Opacak got Cedevita going with a jumper and a second-chance basket by Bilan soon gave the hosts a 4-1 lead. Aleksey Zozulin stepped up with a jumper and a layup by Anatoly Kashirov gave Spartak its first lead, 4-5. Bilan kept pacing Cedevita with a three-point play and a block on Mavrokefalidis. Valery Likhodey struck from downtown and Zupan matched Dontaye Draper's free throws with a jumper for a 9-10 score. Zupan kept pacing the guests with a layup that Tomislav Petrovic bettered with a three-pointer. Back-to-back layups by Dragicevic and Janis Strelnieks allowed Spartak to regain the lead, 12-16, after 10 minutes. Dragicevic scored twice in the paint to boost the guests' margin to 14-20 early in the second quarter. Vedran Vukusic buried a triple and free throws by Marino Bazdaric got Cedevita within 19-22. Yotam Halperin scored off a steal but Bilan had consecutive layup-plus-fouls in an 8-0 run that put the hosts back ahead, 27-24. Halperin hit free throws and Mavrokefalidis erased Opacak's jumper with a layup to keep Spartak within 29-28. Beverley and Mavrokefalidis hit foul shots but a layup by Opacak made it a one-point game, 31-32. A layup by Mavrokefalidis and a three-pointer by Beverley gave Cedevita a 31-37 margin at halftime.
Halperin scored off a steal right after the break but back-to-back layups by Bilan and Smodis got Cedevita within 35-39. Likhodey scored down low but Marko Car answered from downtown for a 38-41 Cedevita deficit. Halperin and Dragicevic stepped up with consecutive layups but a dunk-and-foul by Bilan ignited a 10-0 run that Smodis capped with a triple for a 50-45 Cedevita lead. Beverley split free throws and Likhodey buried a three-pointer to give Spartak some fresh air at 50-49. Zozulin scored in the paint but free throws by Vedran Princ and a layup by Chris Owens put Cedevita back ahead, 54-52, after 30 minutes. A layup by Zozulin and a three-point play by Mavrokefalidis provided another lead change, 54-57, early in the fourth quarter. Princ shined with a fast break layup, igniting a 7-0 run that Bazdaric capped with a three-point play for a 61-57 Cedevita lead. Dragicevic and Draper traded layups but a free throws by Beverley kept Spartak as close as 63-60 with 4 minutes left. Dragicevic shined with a put-back layup and matched Bazdaric's jumper with another basket for a 65-64 score. Back-to-back layups by an unstoppable Dragicevic and Zupan gave Spartak a 65-68 edge with 1:25 left. A three-pointer by Zupan sealed the outcome, 65-71, allowing Spartak to claim its place as the Group G champion.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011