It took two overtimes and a magnificent shot at the final buzzer, but BC Azovmash managed to outlast the Eurocup's only unbeaten team Pamesa Valencia 91-88 on Tuesday in Group K. It was the first Last 16 victory for the Ukrainian champs, who will be tied for the third place in group with the loser of the group’s other Tuesday battle between Hemofarm Stada and Crvena Zvezda. The winner of that game will share the first place in the group with Pamesa. Dijon Thompson became the hero of the day, when he received the ball with only 3 seconds left in the second overtime, took a couple of dribbles and hit an incredible fade-away three-pointer with two defenders on top of him. Thompson finished with a team-high 20 points to go with 7 rebounds and a game-high 6 steals, while Serhiy Lishchuk had another big performance with 16 points and 8 rebounds for Azovmash. Simonas Serapinas notched 14 points and 7 rebounds, Oleksandr Skutyelnik collected 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, Goran Cakic had 12 points and Rolandas Jarutis scored 10 points and dished 8 assists for the winners, who played without Eurocup top scorer Khalid El-Amin. Shammond Williams and Rafa Martinez paced Pamesa with 24 points apiece, combining for all of the visitors' 9 three-pointers. Kosta Perovic registered a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds and fellow big man Matt Nielsen chipped in with 11 points and 6 rebounds for the guests.
Azovmash got off to a 5-0 start on a layup by Cakic and a three-point play by Lishchuk. Nielsen and Albert Mirales answered with 4 points for Pamesa, but the hosts' big duo of Cakic and Lishchuk kept scoring, and after a Lishchuk triple Azovmash was in front at 11-7. Perovic came off the bench and didn't need long time to find his rhythm as he made a layup and added 2 free throws to even the score at 11-11. Then Lishchuk earned a trip to the line and hit both free throws, and Skutyelnik drilled a pair of three-pointers to make it 19-11, but Martinez copied that with 2 triples at the other end for a 19-17 first-quarter score. Martinez opened the second quarter with his fourth three-pointer of the night, before Albert Oliver and Perovic added a basket each, and suddenly the visitors were up 19-24. A timeout by Azovmash head coach Rimas Girskis didn't have an immediate impact, as Williams and Florent Pietrus helped Pamesa extend the advantage to 19-27. Finally, Serapinas came through with a put-back for the hosts' first points of the quarter and then Cakic and Skutyelnik hit a triple each, while Perovic collected inside-buckets for the guests. Next, Serapinas split free throws and nailed another Azovmash three to tie the score at 31-31. Though Pamesa organized another run and was up 33-38 after a Martinez dunk, Thompson scored on Azovmash's last shot of the first half, and it was 35-38 at halftime.
The hosts outscored the guests 5-2 to start the third quarter, and it was even at 40-40 after a three-pointer by Lishchuk. Williams fueled a 2-6 spurt with 4 points and an assist to Pekovic, but the hosts tied the game again at 46-46 on a dunk by Rolandas Jarutis. Though Williams kept attacking, now with 2 smooth shots from behind the arc, Hasan Rizvic answered with a pair of layups and Lishchuk dunked to even it once again at 52-52. The unstoppable Williams hit a two-pointer for his 12th point of the quarter and fed Vule Avdalovic for a layup to make sure Pamesa finished the third quarter with a 52-56 lead. Martinez hit his fifth triple at the start of the last quarter, but Thompson, Serapinas and Rizvic scored a basket each to make it as close as 58-59. Then Pekovic stepped up with 2 buckets inside to increase the difference to 58-63. Thompson and Nielsen exchanged shots, and Pamesa was still in front at 60-65 with 3 minutes left on the clock. After a layup by Skutyelnik was matched by a two-pointer by Williams at the other end, Thompson scored a two-pointer and made a crucial steal that allowed Jarutis to tie the game at 67-67. Thompson wasn't finished yet, as his layup gave the hosts their first second-half lead at 69-67 with 1 minute left on the clock. Nielsen’s slam made it 69-69 and then Albert Oliver stole the ball from Serapinas, but missed the potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Serapinas opened the overtime with a triple and after Martinez and Nielsen evened it up at 72-72, Serapinas was ready with another shot from downtown to make it 75-72. After 2 minutes with no scoring, Martinez made a crucial three-point play to even the score again at 75-75. With 38 seconds left, Pietrus earned a trip to the line and had the nerves to make both. Thompson came through with a layup to tie the score at 77-77 with 25 seconds to go. After a timeout, Pamesa isolated Williams who ran down the clock, but couldn't deliver the game-winning shot.
Nielsen hooked in the first points of the second overtime and Martinez added an off-balance jumper to give the guests a 77-81 lead. Skutyelnik made 2 free throws at the other end and Rizvic tied the score again at 81-81. Just like in first overtime, Pietrus didn't miss from the line for Pamesa, but Cakic and Jaruts nailed triples on consecutive possessions, and now it was 87-83 with only 50 seconds left on the clock. Williams wouldn't surrender and hit a three-pointer for the visitors to cut the score to 87-86. Azovmash missed on its next shot, but the visitors couldn't control the defensive rebound and had to foul. Thompson split the free throws and Williams tied the score one last time at 88-88 with only 3 seconds left on the clock. After an Azovmash timeout, Thompson received the ball between midcourt and three-point line, took a couple dribbles to the right side and released an off-balanced fade-away three-pointer with two defenders on top of him. Somehow, he managed to make the shot, and the marathon game finally ended with a 91-88 Azovmash victory.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009