|Sergio Ramos' outstanding performance of 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists kept Benfica's hopes of the Quarter-FInals alive|
Sport Lisboa e Benfica jumped into the win column in the EuroChallenge Last 16 late Tuesday night to remain firmly in the hunt for a place in the Quarter-Finals.
The Portuguese, hammered by 35 points at Ventspils in their opener and then beaten by three last week at home by BC Gravelines Dunkerque, rebounded with an 83-75 home triumph over Norrköping Dolphins (1-2).
Sergio Ramos, the Benfica captain, had 16 points to lead his team.
The Dolphins trailed by 11 early in the fourth quarter but wouldn't allow the home side to pull away.
Conor Grace capped a 6-0 Norrköping run that cut the Benfica advantage to 75-72.
Ramos answered with two free-throws for Benfica and then added a tip-in with 1:51 left for a seven-point lead.
The home side held on for a very important win.
Benfica did a great job at the free-throw line, making 22 of 25 attempts.
Heshimu Evans couldn't play last week against Gravelines due to injury and was sorely missed but he faced Norrköping and had 15 points and seven rebounds.
Next week, Benfica will try to avenge their mauling in Latvia when they host Ventspils in a battle of 1-2 sides.
Norrköping, meanwhile, will be at home against Gravelines (3-0).
Henrique Vieira (Benfica coach):
"The key to our victory tonight was our defensive quality and our rebound attitude. They have many tall players and rebounding is one of their strengths. We had to put an extra effort on defensive rebounds and because of that we missed some counter attacks that we usually do. We did it very well tonight and the support of our crowd was very important. We decided to rotate the team more than usual and it went well."
Sérgio Ramos (Benfica player):
"We have improved from our last game at home, we defended better and we have also attacked much better, especially in our shot selection. We were much more concentrated in our tasks and things went well. The team is not tired after so many games, we should be prepared for that. We are used to play twice a week. We want to win our next home game, and go away seeking victories in order to get qualified for the next stage."
Kelly Grant (Norrköping coach):
"We felt that we could win this game. We trailed Benfica all game but in the end we felt that we could win. We never give up on a game, and tonight we showed it once more. We were 16 points behind and we almost tied the game in the final minutes. Physically, Benfica were very strong tonight. We must win all home games in order to qualify. That's our main goal. We are confident of winning against Ventspils away and end this group with 4 victories."
Joakim Kjellbolm (Norrköping player):
"We did a poor first half and we payed the price of letting Benfica go with 16 points ahead. We talked at halftime and we did a lot better in the second half, especially in the 4th quarter, but it wasn't enough. We'll do much better the next time."