Juskevicius comes up big for Parma-Parimatch; Prometey's 33-3 quarter eliminates hosts
SOFIA (Bulgaria) - Two games were played on Tuesday in the Basketball Champions League 2021-22 Qualifying Rounds. One went down to the wire, the other was over before it reached halftime, with a monstrous second quarter by BC Prometey, one so loud it kept the hosts of the group quiet the rest of the way.
It was a matchup of different schools, with Levski sending an all-Bulgarian lineup to face some of the biggest international names on the BC Prometey squad. It seemed the game was going to be a close one, once Levski opened up a 14-point lead early on in the game, but whatever coach Ronen Ginzburg said to his men in the break between the first and second quarter had a long lasting impact over the next 30 minutes.
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Prometey came back with a bang, winning the second quarter 33-3! It was almost a 33-0 quarter by the Ukrainians, but Ventsislav Petkov knocked down a three-pointer as halftime buzzer sounded to score the only three points for Levski in the quarter, making it a 48-30 deficit at the break. There was no comeback, it finished 96-56.
"We started real flat, we weren't denying, we weren't playing with a lot of energy. Levski did everything they wanted to in the first quarter. After that first quarter, coach talked to us and we started playing our basketball," DJ Stephens said.
The high-flying forward had three dunks and 11 points during the aforementioned quarter, and did not have to play more than 16:21 in this game, getting some much needed rest in a busy schedule of the Qualifiers.
"We have a really good team. We kept most of the team from last season, added some great pieces. We just got to be aggressive on defense and get easy buckets in transition. We will focus now on Opava. Everyone came out here to qualify so it's going to be a dogfight," Stephens added.
The fact that Opava are up next for Prometey seems to be good news for them. Coach Ginzburg is the national team coach of Czech Republic and spent so much time over there, it's safe to say that nobody knows Czech basketball as good as the current Prometey playcaller.
"I know well Opava, I am from the Czech Republic after all. Very good team, with very good chemistry. This kind of competition is very tricky, the best team doesn't always win, sometimes the best prepared so early in the season wins. The options are open," Ginzburg explained.
Sean Evans had 18 points and 14 rebounds for Prometey against Levski. D'Angelo Harrison scored 16 in just 18 minutes of work, and Viacheslav Petrov was also in double digits with 13. For Levski, Ventsislav Petkov had 19 points, Tsvetomir Chernkojev scored 10, but had a lot of foul trouble.
"In the beginning, we had some sparks, showing our abilities, but a game lasts 40 minutes and we are not ready to play for so long at this pace yet," Chernokojev said.
The other Semi-Final will see Le Mans face off with Parma-Parimatch. The Russians celebrated a 79-76 win over Hapoel Eilat thanks to late game heroics by their sharp shooting Lithuanian guard Adas Juskevicius.
Hapoel Eilat took a 71-69 in the final minute after Justin Patton's offensive rebound and a layup, but Juskevicius had a perfect answer. Despite being 0-of-4 from beyond the arc up until that point, Juskevicius dribbled to his spot and knocked down a big three-pointer to give the Russian squad a 72-71 lead with 30 seconds left.
Bryon Allen, who had a monster game himself, knocked down a pair of free throws to give the lead back to Eilat with 13 seconds left in the game, and then it was time for Juskevicius to find another big play. This time he drove to the left, drew contact, found a way to finish through it for an and-one layup that gave Parma the lead for good.
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Any thoughts of another lead change disappeared for Hapoel because Marcel Ponitka stole the inbounds pass and Eigirdas Zukauskas drew an unsportsmanlike foul to end the drama.
"At the end, we showed character, we made important stops. In the offense we also had good moments and I am happy we won the game," the Lithuanian power forward Zukauskas said.
He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, Juskevicius had 16 points, while Artsiom Parakhouski added 12 points and 7 boards in 18 minutes off the bench for coach Kazys Maksvytis.
"Tough game, knockout game," Parma-Parimatch playcaller said. "We lost one quarter, but it almost cost us the game. We kept our plan and in the end we showed more resilience. The next game will not be an easy one, Le Mans are a very strong, athletic team."
Bryon Allen's 28-point performance goes to waste for the Israeli team.