When Buducnost VOLI Podgorica point guard Nemanja Gordic took a seat with 3 fouls just 4 minutes into Thursday's game against FC Barcelona Lassa, the local fans at Moraca had a legitimate reason for concern. After all, not only is the 30-year-old Gordic his team's most experienced player, but the team's back-up point guard, sixth-man Nikola Ivanovic, was sidelined by injury.
The immediate substitution was forward Coty Clarke for Gordic, which meant that shooting guard Edwin Jackson slid over to point guard. It took more than 3 minutes for the hosts to find their offensive groove with that lineup, but great defense kept Buducnost close before Jackson delivered an assist to Alen Omic and then sank free throws to tie the game, 12-12.
Jackson filled in admirably, dishing a season-high 5 assists, and Gordic played only sparingly in the second quarter. The upshot was that Gordic was well rested for the second half and came into the fourth quarter with fresh legs. He had spent a grand total of 13:21 on the floor when he was called back in with 5:21 remaining and his team down 55-57. A minute later he nailed a deep three. Soon came a game-tying layup and a go-ahead triple Gordic's energy was such that he took over in crunch time to lead what would become the game-winning, 10-0 run for another memorable Buducnost win.
The forced necessity of using Jackson as the lead playmaker for a long time because Gordic and Ivanovic were unavailable may not be head coach Aleksandar Dzikic's first choice of strategy, but for Buducnost it's good to know that a backup of a backup plan can work, too, if needed.