Zadar booked its first victory of the Eurocup Last 16 by holding off Unics Kazan at home 93-91 in a Group J thriller on Tuesday. Zadar improved to 1-2 in the group thanks to 12 three-pointers. After going through the regular season undefeated, Unics has now dropped to 1-2 in Group J. Rok Stipcevic scored 10 points in the final 4 minutes, including 4 free throws in the last 60 seconds, to help Zadar secure the win. The hosts grabbed a six-point lead in the first quarter that grew to 10 in the second, only to see Unics led by 1 point at the break. Zadar used a 13-4 run to start the second half in building an eight-point advantage, and it was still 87-81 with 2 minutes left. Stipcevic made 4 of 4 foul shots down the stretch to seal the win. Stipcevic finished with a team-high 19 points. Todor Gecevski added 17 points, Deyan Ivanov had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Damir Rancic added 13 points. For Unics, Marko Popovic nailed 3 three-pointers in scoring 22 points while dishing out 6 assists. Terrell Lyday added 18 points on 4 triples as well as 5 steals. Kresimir Loncar collected 18 points and 8 rebounds in a losing effort while Vladimir Veremeenko chipped in 11 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Unics played again without team leader Tariq Kirksay.
The game opened with 3 straight three-point shots as Ivanov and Rancic gave the hosts a 6-3 lead. Ivanov's three-point play upped Zadar's advantage to 11-5 before Lyday nailed a triple to bring Unics within 11-10. The long range shooting continued with Hrvoje Peric and Stipcevic nailing downtown shots for a 19-14 Zadar advantage. After another Lyday long ball, Ivanov's next basket gave Zadar a 23-17 lead. Stipcevic score last to give the hosts a 23-19 lead after one period. After Peric and Toni Prostran hit the first baskets of the second quarter, the Zadar edge hit double digits, 29-19. Unics fought its way back into the game with Popovic hitting a long ball and Igor Zamanskiy and Veremeenko making back-to-back baskets as the difference was trimmed to 33-30. Gecevski answered with 6 straight points for Zadar and it was 39-32. Unics held the hosts scoreless on four consecutive possessions while Zamanskiy threw down a dunk and Popovic's layup finished a 0-8 run for the first Unics lead of the game, 39-40. Ivanov foul shots stopped the run but Loncar's basket gave Unics a 41-42 advantage at the break.
Rancic opened the second half by burying back-to-back triples. He added another basket before Stipcevic knocked down his own three-point shot as Zadar busted out on a 13-4 run to a 54-46 advantage. Loncar scored 3 straight baskets in response, the third coming on a dunk of an offensive rebound to trim the deficit to 54-52. But after Loncar was called for a technical foul, Stipcevic made a free throw and Gecevski hit a layup for a 57-52 Zadar lead. Alexey Zhukanenko answered with a dunk and Popovic evened the game at 59-59 with a triple. After Gecevski and Zhukanenko traded three-point shots, Prostran converted a three-point play. But Popovic and Lyday combined for 3 free throws and the game was even at 65-65 going into the fourth quarter. A pair of Marc Jackson free throws and Zhukanenko's steal and layup gave Unics a 65-69 lead to start the final quarter. Juby Johnson and Ivanov answered with back-to-back three-point shots to push Zadar back in front 71-70. Ivanov hit another basket for a 75-72 lead only to see Zamanskiy make it 75-76. And after Gecevski and Peric scored for a 79-76 Zadar lead, Popovic knotted the game again with a triple. Stipcevic nailed back-to-back triples and Gecevski's score gave Zadar an 87-81 advantage with 2 minutes left. A Lyday three brought Unics to within 87-85. But in the final minute Stipcevic twice made 2 of 2 foul shots for a 91-86 lead. Popovic's free throws cut the margin to 91-88 but Johnson gave Zadar the win with a dunk, althuogh Lyday hit a late three to limit the damage in scoring for later tie-breakers.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009