Olimpija earns third straight win
Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana fueled its Top 16 hopes on Tuesday with a 73-62 victory over Germani Brescia Leonessa at Arena Stozice. After starting the season with five straight defeats, Olimpija won its third straight game to improve to 3-5 in Group C, while dropping Brescia to 4-4. Moreover, the hosts captured the important tiebreak advantage between the teams; Brescia won 78-71 when they met in Round 3 in Italy. Ryan Boatright tallied 14 points, 6 assists and 2 steals and Codi Miller-McIntyre had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals for the winners. Mikael Hopkins added 12 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks and Filip Kruslin scored 11 for Cedevita. Ken Horton led Brescia with 13 points and Awudu Abass, DeAndre Lansdowne and David Moss contributed 10 apiece.
The home side got the start it wanted with points on its first five possessions - including a pair of baskets by Andrija Stipanovic - to lead 9-3 after 3 minutes, at which point the visitors called a timeout. Horton's second triple and Lansdowne's jumper closed the gap before a three by Luca Vitali tied the game and a Lansdowne triple completed a 2-11 run and Brescia's comeback to lead 13-16. Olimpija regained its composure and the teams finished the first quarter with Brescia holding a 19-20 edge. The hosts regained the lead on a Kruslin triple to open the scoring in the second quarter. Brescia tied it twice, but each time Olimpija responded. Four Olimpija players scored during a 9-0 run while Brescia was held scoreless for more than 5 minutes as the hosts roared to 33-24. Angelo Warner stopped the Brescia rot, however, a Miller-McIntyre triple on the halftime buzzer made it 38-26 at the break.
Brescia was the hungrier side at the start of the second half; Abass had 5 points, 1 assist and 1 steal in a 0-9 start to the third quarter to bring the visitors within 3. An aggressive Abass also committed 2 offensive fouls in that stretch! Miller-McIntyre ended a 4-minute scoreless stretch for Olimpija with a tough layup that made it 40-35, but free throws by Moss and Brian Sacchetti got the visitors within 44-42. With Olimpija seemingly on the ropes, Edo Muric sank a three-pointer, Maik Zirbes scored on the offensive glass and Boatright drilled a jumper for a 7-0 spurt. Sacchetti added another free throw to make it 51-43 through three quarters. Free throws by Hopkins restored a double-digit Olimpija lead and he soon dunked to match his team's largest lead from the first half, 55-43. Brescia could not pierce the Olimpija basket until 4 minutes had passed in the fourth quarter. The teams heated up at the same time, which prevented Brescia from chipping away much at the deficit. Three by Abass and Lansdowne, which sandwiched missed free throws by Muric, made it 62-56 and prompted a timeout called by Olimpija with 3 minutes remaining. Moss struck twice more from downtown to bring Brescia closer, 66-62, with 40.5 seconds remaining. Free throws by Hopkins and a steal and basket-plus-foul from Miller-McIntyre all but put the game on ice.
Brescia had the ball with 17 seconds left and trailed Olimpija by 6 points. Winning seemed unlikely, so the goal was to ensure that it lost by fewer than 6 points to keep control of the potential tiebreaker between the two teams since Brescia won 78-71 when they met in Round 3 in Italy. Then the worst possible scenario occurred for the visitors; DeAndre Lansdowne overthrew Awudu Abass on the inbounds pass and Codi Miller-McIntrye swooped in for the steal, raced for a layup and was fouled. The resulting free throw put Olimpija ahead by 9 and the hosts managed to tack on 2 more free throws before the final buzzer to collect both the win and tiebreaker.
Brescia committed a season-high and tied a club record with 19 turnovers. Olimpija dominated the paint, making 20 of 35 two-pointers (57.1%), holding Brescia to 13-of-32 shooting on twos (40.6%) and outrebounding the visitors 44-36.
Top 16 implications
There was a possibility of Brescia clinching a Top 16 berth this week as well as a possibility of Olimpija seeing its Top 16 hopes dashed. The outcome made both scenarios impossible and left both teams with plenty to do in the remaining two rounds. Now Olimpija enters its next game only one win behind the third-place teams, one of which will be Brescia. Only UNICS Kazan now has a chance to qualify for the Top 16 from Group C in Round 8.
The 7DAYS EuroCup will have a one-week stoppage next week. Brescia will play on the road again when it faces Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul on Tuesday, December 10. The next evening, Olimpija will visit France to take on Nanterre 92.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019