Play-Off Qualifiers preview: CEZ Nymburk v Dinamo Sassari
NYMBURK (Basketball Champions League) - "Survive and advance" may as well have been the motto for Dinamo Sassari in the Regular Season of the Basketball Champions League.
The Sardinian outfit, which lost its second game of the season at Szolnoki Olaj, 73-72, dropped to 2-4 after back-to-back defeats at home when Besiktas Sompo Japan and MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg drilled 3-pointers in the final second.
Their campaign turned into an almighty struggle and continued that way until the very end of the Regular Season. With a couple of games remaining, Federico Pasquini's side was 5-7 and needed to win out to claim fifth place in Group E.
They did just that and then, playing at home, rolled to a 94-72 first-leg triumph over CEZ Nymburk in their Play-Off Qualifier.
Dinamo Sassari are not in an unassailable position as they look ahead to next week's second meeting with the Czech side in Nymburk, but they're pretty close to one. The mindset for the players has to be that the job is not finished. That's how Trevor Lacey, who had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals, views it.
"We must have the same approach as we showed (in the first game)," the shooting guard said.
Sassari coach Federico Pasquini was pleased with the first leg but is treating the score as if it's half-time - which it is.
"We know this is just the first half," Sassari coach Federico Pasquini said. "We have to play a game of 80 minutes.
"We know they are a great team. Now, we have to prepare ourselves for the most important part of our war."
For CEZ Nymburk, it seems the entire body of work has been good for the club in the Basketball Champions League, yet one game in Sassari may end up taking the shine off it.
"I hope the home court is different. Of course the gap is big, but I've seen everything in basketball." - CEZ Nymburk coach Ronen Ginzburg
"I think the first half we played good, moved the ball well and we knew how to attack them," coach Ronen Ginzburg said.
"The second half, the home team started to be more aggressive, more physical and we didn't show up."
Nymburk had led 41-36 inside the final minute of the first half after a 3-pointer by Eugene Lawrence but shots from the arc from David Bell and Stipcevic gave the Italian team a one-point advantage at half-time.
They outscored the visitors 29-13 in the third quarter to take a firm grip on proceedings.
Both Ginzburg, and Sassari guard Rok Stipcevic, noted that the Italian club may have been more battle-hardened before the encounter. Pasquini's side, Sassari fans might argue, have played in a tougher group of the Basketball Champions League.
The bianco-blu certainly can't take a week off on the domestic front. Sassari are 11-8 and in fourth place in the Lega A - just two wins more than 12th-placed Pasta Reggia Caserta.
Nymburk have won 23 of their 24 Czech league games and are four games clear of BK Pardubice (19-4) in the NBL standings.
A second-half horror show at Sassari has left CEZ Nymburk in dire straits
"What happened?" Ginzburg said. "I think we're not used to playing with this intensity every week and the Italian league is like this."
They did not win any of their road games against the other teams in Group A that have advanced to the Play-Off Qualifiers or the Round of 16.
On the bright side, CEZ Nymburk as hosts beat all of the Group A sides that advanced. Home advantage, therefore, is something that will offer Ginzburg's team a chance to not only win against Sassari but perhaps overcome a huge deficit.
"I hope the home court is different," Ginzburg said. "Of course the gap is big, but I've seen everything in basketball."
In other words, stay tuned!