The Eurocup Semifinals have been set after Game 2 of the Quarterfinals decided the fates of the remaining clubs on Wednesday.
As you would expect nearing the business end of the competition, the Basketball was hugely competitive, exciting, and full of drama. Only one series finished as a sweep as clubs gave no quarter at home and on the road over the two games, with one series even going to overtime.
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade vs. Budivelnik Kiev, 79-70 (158-152)
This clash in Serbia turned out to be the game of the night as Crvena Zvezda welcomed Budivelnik Kiev to Belgrade. Ukrainian club Kiev entered the game three points in front after winning Game 1 at Zalgiris Arena last week. However the margin was close enough that Zvezda could rely on home court advantage in a bid to reel in the small deficit. A phenomenal fourth quarter from Charles Jenkins tied the series for Belgrade as the regulation buzzer went, and the hosts went on to win in overtime with an aggregate score of 158-152.
A raucous crowd inside the Kombank Arena gave the Serbian powerhouse an early lift as Crvena Zvezda opened with a 6-0 run. The rest of the first quarter saw the Budivelnik players assert themselves on the game and take a decent 11-15 lead after 10 minutes. The hosts responded early in the second quarter by equaling the scoreboard at 17-17 before the teams traded for much of the 10 minutes. The visitors seemed to be one step ahead though and carried a small 29-31 lead into halftime (108-113 on aggregate). Once again Belgrade tied the game with the opening score of the second half, but Kiev looked to always have an answer and pulled 31-36 ahead. While the away team held a five point cushion for much of the period, the soon to explode Jenkins downed a triple to make it 40-42 after 30 minutes. During the first half of the last frame the hosts tied the game once more at 51-51 and the stage was set for Jenkins. In an unbelievable personal performance, Jenkins reeled off 21 points in the last five minutes, including a buzzer defying triple to give Crvena Zvezda the win (63-60) and a tie on aggregate (141-141). Overtime descended on the Serbian capital and Jenkins continued to propel the home team by sinking two from downtown to open the extra stanza. The home team held control through the five minutes and wound down the clock for a memorable win.
Charles Jenkins was the undoubted star of the show as he hit 29 points overall and drove Belgrade to success, while picking up more points than any other player from the bench in Eurocup Quarterfinals history. Ivan Radenovic grabbed a double-double 11 points and 11 boards in the victory.
Darjus Lavrinovic had another good game for Kiev as he collected 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. DaJuan Summers chipped in with 13 points; Janis Strelnieks scored 11 with Ricky Minard and Blake Ahearn netting 10 each.
Unics Kazan vs. Aykon TED Ankara, 88-52 (169-120)
Unics Kazan romped to victory in Game 2 by once again swamping TED Ankara to progress to the next round. In another impressive display, the Russian team built on a substantial 68-81 win from last week to take the series 169-120. This week in front of home fans inside the Basket Hall Kazan the hosts demonstrated why they are among the favorites for this year´s title. Indeed, Unics has now won 19 from 20 Eurocup games this season and looks in formidable form.
The Russian club led throughout and never looked in danger of letting TED Ankara back into the game. By halftime a 10 point lead had been carved out (43-33) and a barnstorming 20-2 run in the third killed the series. Andrew Goudelock continued his recent good form for Unics by netting 21 points and being the architect of that third stanza run.
Alba Berlin vs. Valencia Basket, 78-73 (159-132)
Valencia Basket progressed to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year despite losing Game 2 to a spirited ALBA Berlin. The Spanish team progresses thanks to a big margin from Game 1.
Full Game Report
Nizhny Novgorod vs. Hapoel Jerusalem, 88-72
Despite trailing after Game 1, Nizhny Novgorod mounted a Game 2 comeback to defeat Hapoel Jerusalem and progress to the next round. The margin was only three points from Hapoel´s success in the Israeli capital last week and Nizhny used home court advantage to overcome the deficit. A 15-0 run in the second quarter sparked by Taylor Rochestie paced the Russian club to success. The victory was built with consistency from outside the arc, or indeed the lack of consistency from Jerusalem. The hosts hit 8 out of 9 from downtown while the visitors managed just one from range.
Semifinal line up
Valencia vs. Nizhny Novgorod
Crvena Zvezda Belgrade vs. Unics Kazan
(Games to be played April 1st)