U-BT Cluj Napoca from Romania continued their hot start to their debut season in the Basketball Champions League with a 76-71 victory over Italian team Happy Casa Brindisi.
Brindisi’s captain Jeremy Chappell was unavailable for the game, but Nick Perkins stepped up with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals on 8-of-13 shooting from the field.
Cluj Napoca used a seven-man rotation, and six of those players scored.
Turning point: Cluj Napoca went on an 8-0 run to open the third quarter and had a six-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Brindisi completely turned things around, scoring 30 points after only 41 combined points in the first three quarters.
They even had an eight-point lead with about five minutes left, but Cluj kept battling back.
Game heroes: Andrija Stipanovic was a force inside for Cluj with 22 points and six rebounds, shooting a very efficient 11-of-13 from the field.
Cluj’s Patrick Richard caught fire in the final quarter, scoring 14 of his 24 points, to go along with his five rebounds and four assists on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and 3-of-7 from three-point.
He and Stipanovic combined for 46 of the team’s 76 points.
Richard also helped seal the game with a dagger three to give Cluj a 74-71 lead with 42 seconds left.
Stats don’t lie: Both teams didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, as Brindisi went 8-of-29 from three-point and Cluj went 7-of-24 from beyond the arc.
Even though Cluj dominated the time leading (26:34-8:10), the game was much closer in the fourth quarter with five lead changes and five times tied.
Brindisi forced 18 turnovers and scored 23 points off those turnovers, but it ultimately didn’t hurt Cluj in the end.
Brindisi also dominated fast break points (18-2), but once again, that didn’t turn out to be a deciding factor in the end result.
Bottom line: Brindisi fell to 0-2 and lost both games on their home court.
The Italian club play their next game on the road in Istanbul against Darussafaka on Nov 3.
Cluj is now 2-0 in their debut BCL season and currently sits atop Group G.
The Romanian club will be on the road again when they take on Hapoel U-NET Holon in their next game on Nov 3.