19 September, 2017
06 May, 2018
0 Kendrick Ray (CZE)
Game Report
to read

CEZ Nymburk roll to victory but Stelmet Enea Zielona Gora reach Play-Offs

NYMBURK (Basketball Champions League) - CEZ Nymburk lowered the boom on Stelmet Enea Zielona Gora with a 15-0 run at the start of the second quarter en route to an 84-70 triumph on Wednesday to clinch second place in Group D.

Kendrick Ray, who had 6 points in that decisive stretch, scored a game-high 21.

Defeat was not costly in the end for the Polish club, however, as Zielona Gora clinched fourth place and a spot in the Round of 16 thanks to Telekom Baskets Bonn's 79-74 triumph over Sidigas Avellino. That contest was played at the same time in Germany.

So despite the loss, there were happy scenes behind the Zielona Gora bench with the club's fans that had travelled to support the Polish side thrilled that Bonn had done their team a favor.

There weren't many smiles on the faces of the Zielona Gora players, however, at least not in the press conference where veteran guard and captain, Lukasz Koszarek, expressed disappointment that he and his teammates had needed help from Bonn.

"We came here to win tonight and started good in the first quarter," he said. "We kept our tactics and it was pretty okay. We made some mistakes and missed some shots, but this quarter went as it was supposed to here.

"Then we lost our rhythm, they scored a lot of points in transition."

The killer blows were indeed landed at the start of the second frame.

Thomas Kelati fouled Tomas Vyoral while he was attempting a 3-pointer but the Czech international point guard made only 1 of 3 free-throws.

The hosts didn't miss many after that. Ray then scored with a jumper and followed that with a breakaway dunk following a turnover by Martynas Gecevicius. Eugene Lawrence next drilled a 3-ball and Ray dunked again to make it 30-21 in favor of the home side.

Alexander Davis added a jumper before Vojtech Hruban capped the run with another 3-pointer for a 35-21 lead.

Zielona Gora weren't able to mount a serious fightback after.

"We fought but it was hard to come back," Koszarek said.

CEZ Nymburk finished 10-4 and second to Besiktas Sompo Japan in Group D, while Stelmet Zielona Gora finished the Regular Season at 6-8, behind third-place Nanterre 92 (9-5). 

Oren Amiel, the CEZ Nymburk coach, said after the game that it was important his team, despite having already clinched a spot in the Round of 16, played hard against Zielona Gora.

"We don't want to be happy players or a happy team," he said. "We want to be hungry. Guys showed great character."

Whenever Zielona Gora managed to get the deficit to single digits, the hosts were able to turn up the intensity and execute.

The first half ended on a downer for the visitors, who got a 3-pointer from Thomas Kelati to trim the deficit to 9, only for Amiel to call a timeout. Petr Benda then buried a last-second shot from the right corner for a 47-35 CEZ Nymburk advantage at the break.

"Concentration is always important and it's always good if you have it," Amiel said.

So what next for these teams in the Basketball Champions League?

Amiel isn't even thinking about the possible opponents in the Round of 16.

"My experience is if you start calculating on this, you are out of focus," he said. "All teams are good teams. We had a great achievement. We just want to enjoy the moment, whoever comes, comes.

"We will fight, I can promise that. Hopefully we can advance and continue to do great things."

Ray echoed his coach's thoughts.

"I just want to continue," he said, "go out there and play the next round and hopefully keep on winning."