The Eurocup Eighthfinals started on Tuesday with two clashes as the path to the Final Four opened for business. The best teams from the Top 32 have gathered together for the first knock out stage of the competition; Budivelnik Kiev and JSF Nanterre opened the round, followed by Besiktas grabbing a win against Novgorod.
The remaining six games will take place across the continent on March 5th as the 2013/2014 Eurocup season gathers pace.
Budivelnik Kiev vs. JSF Nanterre, 86-82
Budivelnik Kiev opened the Eighthfinals with a hard fought “home” win over JSF Nanterre. Due to the political and social troubles in Ukraine, Budivelnik was forced to play the game in Zalgiris arena, the home of Lithuanian powerhouse Zalgiris Kaunas. That inconvenience did not stop the team snatching a first win in the series, although Nanterre will take comfort from a solid performance.
Darjus Lavrinovic opened the scoring for the hosts with a jumper, although Nanterre quickly responded through Johan Passave. Lavrinovic struck twice more to pace Kiev, while Janis Strelnieks capped a 6-0 run to give the Ukrainians an 8-2 advantage midway through the first. Trenton Meacham started finding the net for Nanterre and propelled the team to its first lead at 15-17. Budivelnik responded during the final seconds of the quarter to hold a 21-19 lead after 10 minutes.
The teams traded baskets until the thirteenth minute (25-23) until the home team went on another 6-0 mini run. Deshaun Thomas kept Nanterre in the contest with a two pointer and a dunk, but Kiev kept trading nets to keep a lead at 33-29 thanks to a slam from Artur Drozdov. Thomas was on fire and scored 12 points during a blockbuster second period, but there was also a go to guy in the Kiev roster as Lavrinovic kept finding the basket. The home team’s consistency produced a convincing 47-41 halftime lead.
Passave made it a two point game by grabbing the first four points of the second half (47-45) but Blake Ahearn was keeping the French team at bay. The American hit a jumper and free throw in response to Passave and had scored the last five of Budivelnik´s points. Lavrinovic continued his blistering form by hitting the next five for the hosts as Nanterre replied through a Kevin Lisch triple. Ahearn made it a 10 point game (60-50) during the 26th minute and a 7-0 streak put the difference at 14 just a minute later (64-50). Nanterre responded with their own 8-0 rally, but Kiev held on to take a 66-61 lead into the final stanza of the game.
Ricky Minard opened the fourth with a dunk and free throw to once again give the Ukrainian club command of the game. Nanterre shared scores in an attempt to come back but much of the damage had been done. The French visitors kept the hosts out for nearly two minutes midway through the final frame but struggled to score, hitting just a two pointer from David Lighty. There were fourteen free throw scores in the last stanza as Budivelnik stayed in control to take a win in the first game of the Eurocup Eighthfinals.
Lavrinovic had a stunning game for the hosts and collected a game high 28 points alongside 9 boards and 3 blocks. Ahearn hit 14 for the winning effort.
The Nanterre players proved solid from beyond the arc, hitting 12 triples during the contest. Thomas topped the team with 21 points, while Sergii Gladyr hit 15 points and Passave had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.