Gescrap BB downed Unicaja 55-59
Gescrap BB reached the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs in its debut season in the continent’s premier competition by edging past Unicaja 55-59 in in Malaga, Spain, on Thursday. Bilbao finished the Top 16 with a 4-2 record in Group F, which placed it second behind Montepaschi Siena on a tiebreaker. The men in black will next face CSKA Moscow in the best-of-five playoffs. For the second straight week, Raul Lopez hit the key shots down the stretch – a three-pointer to put Gescrap ahead 51-53 and the foul shots to keep it there. Marko Banic and Aaron Jackson led the winners with 10 points apiece, Lopez finished with 9 and Dimitrios Mavroeidis added 8 points, while Axel Hervelle grabbed 10 rebounds. Hrvoje Peric bagged 19 points along with 9 rebounds and Luka Zoric contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort. Unicaja bowed out of the Top 16 with a 0-6 record.
Gescrap opened a 4-10 lead on baskets in the paint by Hervelle and Mavroeidis, followed by a pair of bombs from downtown by Jackson. After the Blum added a triple, Unicaja hit the gas offensively on consecutive three-pointers by Alex Abrines and a pair of Peric buckets to grab the lead 16-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Zoric knocked down a short-range jumper to start play, then Kostas Vasiliadis buried a two-point jumper to set the score at 18-17. Scoring dried up for more than three minutes, then after Unicaja’s Joel Freeland hit two foul shots, Roger Grimau drive down the lane and banked in a layup, moving the score to 20-19. Both teams continued to struggle offensively until Mavroeidis powered the offensive boards and Zoric nailed a two-pointer from the baseline as the hosts held on to the lead, 22-21. Banic’s foul shots provided the last of the scoring, as Gescrap took a 22-24 halftime lead.
Mavroeidis and Freeland exchanged layups, then Alex Mumbru hit a jumper in the paint, giving Gescrap a 24-28 lead. Mavroeidis found the range from downtown and Jackson finished a drive with a left-handed layup as the visitors extended the lead to 24-33. After Freeland made both foul shots and Jackson banged in a baseline jumper, Peric drained a set shot from beyond the arc, cutting the difference to 29-35. Mumbru and Zoric swapped two-pointers, then Abrines and Peric each finished off two straight fast breaks with dunks as the hosts got close, 35-37. But then Banic came up with two baskets in the paint along with a foul shot to give the visitors a little breathing room at the end of the third quarter, 36-42.
Abrines and Raul Lopez exchanged layups, then Augusto Cesar Lima added a layup and Peric finished off another fast break with a finger roll to pull the hosts to 43-44. Grimau and Blums drove to the basket for consecutive layups as the visitors fended off the Unicaja 43-48. But the hosts kept coming as Freeland scored in the paint and Zoric added foul shots, reducing the deficit to 47-48. Mavroeidis scored down low, but Peric scored 4 straight points on free throws and a put-back on the offensive glass as the hosts edged out front 51-50. Lopez drained a three-pointer with just over 2 minutes on the clock, then Banic downed a reverse layup to give Gescrap a 51-55 margin with 1:19 to go. Abrines hit two free throws, but Lopez answered with two of his own from the line with 15 seconds to go, giving the visitors a 53-57 lead. E.J. Rowland added 2 more from the foul line for the hosts, cutting the difference to 55-57, and putting pressure on Lopez to make his foul shots with 6.2 seconds to go. He made both to ice the game, as Gescrap squeezed out the win 55-59.
Thursday, March 1, 2012