EuroChallenge: Thrillers are order of the day

If you like exciting basketball, Tuesday’s EuroChallenge contests were meant for you as they came down to a total margin of 22 points over five games, with two games decided in the last seconds (and had identical scores).

Group I
Gaz Metan Medias – Joensuun Kataja, 84:82
Just looking at the quarter scores sets you up for an exciting finish in this one: The hosts built themselves a substantial lead in the first quarter (25:16), added to it in the second (45:33) and lost most of it in the third (62:59), to set up a wild fourth.

Kataja pulled within one, 24 seconds into the final frame with a deuce, 62:61. Gaz Metan countered to stay ahead and the clubs played cat and mouse for the better part of the quarter. Kataja finally knotted the score at 76 with 2:07 to play, but the hosts ran off four straight to go up 80:76 with 1:29 left. Kataja got two singles and a triple over the next 61 seconds to get their first lead since 1:48 into the first quarter. Gaz Metan called a time out to work out a last second shot, but after getting the ball in play the Kataja defense forced a five-second call. Kyle Shiloh fouled Antti Kanervo, who split his singles to push the lead to 80:82 with 16 seconds to play. Shiloh made the best of the foul when he dropped in a triple with 9 on the clock to go up 83:82. Jermaine Flowers turned the ball over on the in bounds play and Ivan Lilov split his charity tosses as time ran out on the visitors comeback.

Lilov scored 19 to pace Gaz Metas, Shiloh added 17, Ivan Ivanovic contributed 16 points and 9 rebounds.

Kanervo was game-high with 25 points for Kataja, Daniel Coleman tallied 23 points and 7 rebounds.

BK Ventspils – Pinar Karsiyaka, 81:86
From a very early age all ballers are taught that defense and free throws win games in the stretch… Pinar Karsiyaka connected on 23 of 27 singles (85.2%), while Ventspils only toed the line 19 times and then only dropped in 10 of those (52.6%). The most important free throws the visitors shot Tuesday came within the last 27 seconds, when they found the cords 7 of 8 times. Ventspils could only muster a triple and the front end of a pair of singles during the same stretch, giving Pinar their second win in Last 16 play.

Robert Dixon had a stellar night posting 32 points and 5 assists for Pinar. He dropped in 9 of 9 from the line, 7 of 9 inside the arc and 3 of 7 outside the arc. Jon Diebler added 17 points and William Thomas contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Arturs Berzins paced Ventspils with 19, followed by Folarin Campbell and Sandis Valters with 14 points each.

Group J
BCM Gravelines – Paris-Levallois, 82:77
BCM Gravelines fought off a hard charging Paris-Levallois club in the last quarter to pick up their first win (1-1) in the Last 16. The loss dropped PL to 1-1 and tied with BCM in the standings. Szolnoki Olaj and Hapoel Holon play Wednesday in the other Group J contest this week.

The hosts grabbed the early lead, outscoring Paris-Levallois 21:16 in the first frame. The guests took a 37:39 margin into the lockerroom at the half.

BCM blew the game wide open in the third with a 28:9 margin in the quarter, to head into the final stanza up 65:48.

The visitors took control back in the fourth and did everything they could to get back in the contest, running off a 4:19 scoring charge, but ran out of time, coming up five short, 82:77.

Ludovic Vaty gave the winning club 22 points and 7 rebounds, Dwight Buycks added 16 points and 6 assists, and David Noel contributed 15 points, 6 rebounds and 1 blocked shot.

Sean May led the guests with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrew Albicy added 18 points and 5 rebounds.

Group K
BC Khimik Yuzhne – Krasnye Krylia, 69:77
Krasnye Krylia earned their second win in Group K with a solid 69:77 victory over Khimik, who drops to 0-2.

Krasnye built a substantial lead through he third to head into the final 10 up 54:66, then cruised through the last quarter 15:11 to pick up the win.

Chester Simmons led the victors with 16 points and 7 rebounds, while Aaron Miles added 15 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists.

Willie Dean paced Khimik with 13 points and 11 assists, Vitaliy Kovalenko also dropped in 13, as did Sava Lesic.

Norrkoping Dolphins – Tofas SC, 84:82
The Dolphins got a much needed Group K win when Mikael Lindqvist found the cords on two singles with nothing left on the clock, putting both clubs at 1-1 on the Last 16 round.

Norrkoping grabbed the early lead, 24:20, but relinquished it in the second when Tofas outscored their hosts 21:28 to head into the locker room up 45:48.

The Dolphins got the lead back in the third and even built an eight-point margin, 64:56, with 1:36 in the quarter to play. Tofas got the last four points though, cutting their advantage in half, 64:60 with 10 to play.

The margin grew to six, 71:65, with 5:31 to play, but Tofas hung in and took the lead, 80:82, with 35 second left on an Inanc Koc three-ball. The Dolphins called a timeout to talk the situation over and Edgars Jeromanovs made good on the chat when he sliced the cords with a jumping deuce as the clock read nine seconds to play and the score knotted at 82.

Norrkoping burned another timeout and when they came back it was Tofas’ ball. They got it in and Steven Burtt got a jumper off just before the buzzer that missed and was hauled in by Lindvist, who was fouled as the buzzer sounded. With no time left on the clock, Lindvist had two singles to make one for the ‘W’ and he sank them both for the second thrilling 84:82 EuroChallenge game of the day. The win for Norrkoping leaves both teams at 1-1 in the group.

Lindqvist’s game-heroic free tosses brought him to a game-high 21 points as he led five players in double figures. Christian Maraker added 14 points and 4 assists, Joakim Kjellbom had 13, Oladapo Ayuba tallied 11 points and 6 rebounds and Jeromanovs tacked on 10.

Chinemelu Elonu led Tofas with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Koc contributed 15, Burtt added 13 points and 4 assists and Joshua Heytvelt 11 points and 7 rebounds.

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