After suffering a heart-breaking quadruple overtime loss to Kyiv in the first leg of the season, Czech side Nymburk dished out some suffering of their own in the return contest, inflicting a 1-point victory on their hosts.
To add insult to injury, it was Lamarr Greer, a hero for Kyiv in the first game, who became the villain this time around. His last second miss from the free throw line ended Kyiv's hopes of overtime and allowed Nymburk to escape with a valuable victory.
The first quarter started with what concerned Renato Pasquali the most prior to the start of the game – Zidek’s 5 consecutive points. However, the home side quickly found a way of slowing the big man down and evening up the game.
Lamarr Greer and Veljko Mrsic, who checked in shortly after the start of the quarter were the key factors for the teams’ close performance, and the 21-21 score at the end of the 1st.
BC Kyiv started to adjust to CEZ Nymburk’s defense in the second and by the end of the quarter built up a 6-point 50-44 lead.
The visiting side took good care of the half-time team talk and started the third quarter with a 3:15 run. BC Kyiv performed poorly on defense during most of the quarter, however several important shots allowed them to stay within reach of a shot at the buzzer – 68-71.
CEZ Nymburk maintained the lead for most of the 4th quarter, even though Kyiv kept hustling. They took advantage of the visitors’ mistakes having grabbed couple of offensive rebounds and took over – 85-84.
As the game was tied at 85 with less than a minute to go, CEZ Nymburk had the possession, which lasted almost until the final buzzer. They missed two potential game-winning shots but grabbed offensive rebounds on both occasions and had all the time they needed to prepare for one more.
It was Ashante Johnson who made the winning shot. The 203 cm forward was the MVP of the Czech league last season and returned to the side in December after leaving 2 months earlier for personal reasons.
Johnson was left in a one-on-one situation against Sergei Chikalkin and made a turnaround jump shot with 1.9 to go.
After a time out, Marcus Norris threw an American football pass into Nymburk’s 3-point area. The ball was deflected by Chikalkin, picked up by Lamarr Greer who was fouled attempting a shot at the buzzer. Lamarr, who had been perfect from the free throw line during the game, missed the first shot, after which the second one did not matter.
“It’s easy to talk about the game if you take a look at the statistics. Poor percentage of our 2-point shots and free throws is the main reason for our loss.
“My job during the week is to prepare the team mentally for the future games, make it better and let them have the confidence they had before. We need to play at our best in the two remaining FIBA Europe games”
Kresimir Loncar, BC Kyiv forward:
“We prepared for the game very well and I don’t know what happened to us. We could not have left Jiri Zidek scoreless – he is a great player with NBA experience. However, the players that usually don’t score that much were killing us, especially Radek Necas, who scored 23 points”.
Jiri Zidek, CEZ Nymburk center:
“We only had 7 healthy guys ready to play, so we had nothing to lose. Our plan was to stay close for three quarters and see what happens after that, since the home side has more pressure on them if the game is close in the 4th.
“We had to win one of the remaining games to stay in the tournamnet and we are very happy we managed to win this one."