One of the best games so far in this season’s Basketball Champions League was played yesterday in the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, where hosts U-Banca Transilvania needed two overtimes to defeat Hapoel Holon with the final score of 106 to 101.
Playing for the first time in the BCL groups in the club’s history, Romanian champions U-BT Cluj-Napoca already recorded two impressive wins against Darussafaka and Brindisi but lost in Israel against Hapoel two weeks ago. This gave a psychological advantage for Hapoel Holon coming into the game and Maurizio Buscaglia’s team started much better, taking an early 10 point lead in the first quarter. The Israelis maintained a 9 point lead going into halftime thanks to Steven Gray, who scored all of his 10 points in the second quarter.
At halftime coach, Mihai Silvasan managed to wake up his team and U-BT started the second half much more determined, erasing the deficit and even taking a 5 point lead, 53-48. After this, the teams went head to head, alternating the lead, but after two key 3-pointers made by former Maccabi Tel Aviv player Guy Pnini in the 4th quarter, it seemed like Hapoel will get away with the win. With only 14 seconds left to play, the Israelis had an 83-80 lead and possession, but Karel Guzman stole the ball at a Fred Bourdillon inbound and Patrick Richard made a crazy 3-pointer with a defender in his face to tie the game. Richard repeated his heroic play in the first overtime too: Hapoel was leading 94-91 with 6 seconds left, but the ball reached Richard’s hands again and he sank another clutch 3-point shot. In the second overtime, the teams went head to head again, but the players from Cluj were calmer, Guzman and Brandon Brown made their free throws and U-BT won in the end.
Andrija Stipanovic was the MVP of the game scoring 29 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. The captain of the team from Cluj, Patrick Richard had an impressive all-around game with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists and Brandon Brown was also very solid with 20 points and 8 assists. From the losing, the best player was point guard Niv Misgav (19 points, 21 at index rate).
The two teams will continue the race for first place in the group in December. In the next round, U-BT will host the Italian side, Brindisi, while Hapoel Holon will travel to Istanbul to play against Darussafaka.
Image: Basketball Champions League