Wayne Selden’s go-ahead three-pointer with 9.5 seconds remaining proved decisive as Israeli team Ironi Ness Ziona edged a dramatic duel to defeat BC Parma 81-80 to reach the FIBA Europe Cup Final.
Having seen an 11-point advantage wiped out in the first half, Ness Ziona had to dig deep to prevail in an exciting finish in front of a passionate home crowd as they head into Sunday’s title showdown.
Turning point: Ness Ziona doubled up their opponents early on at 20-10 before Russian team Parma hit back with a 20-5 spell to lead at the break. A tight tussle ensued in the second half, and there was little to separate the two teams down the stretch. Lorenzo Williams’ three had pushed his side ahead at 75-74, but a missed free throw would leave the door ajar for their opponents to tie the game – though Selden had other ideas with an immediate three.
Game hero: Selden started strong and finished strong. The former NBA guard came out firing with seven early points, and his game-winning three took his personal points tally to a game-high of 24 points for his best display in the competition this season.
And you can’t talk about heroes without mentioning the inspiring effort of captain Tal Dunne, who not only played with a fractured hand but suffered a head injury in the first half before returning to the floor.
Stats don’t lie: It was Parma’s three-point shooting that kept them in the contest early as they started 7-of-13, but turnovers proved costly as they were forced into 15 – most of them in the early stages – with Ness Ziona profiting with 24 points, whilst only allowing 5 turnovers of their own.