RheinEnergie Koeln survived a furious fourth-quarter fightback by BC Kyiv on Friday in Germany to force a deciding third game in their EuroCup quarter-final tie.
Hugely disappointed with their 87-85 overtime defeat on Tuesday in Ukraine, RheinEnergie meant business from the opening tip. They ended up leading from start to finish and prevailing 69-62 with Michael Hakim Jordan leading the team in scoring with 21 points.
Sasa Obradovic's team looked awesome at times and when Jordan made a lay-up 12 seconds into the fourth quarter to take his points tally to 18 and give RheinEnergie a 61-42 advantage, victory looked secure.
But this is the EuroCup, and the opponents were BC Kyiv who have plenty of talent and experience.
|Michael Jordan came up big down the stretch for RheinEnergie|
Scoring points in a hurry is not a problem for Renato Pasquali's men, who immediately went on a 17-1 run over the next five minutes, including back-to-back three-point plays in the middle of the surge by LaMarr Greer and Kresimir Loncar.
When Loncar fed Greer and the American went up for a dunk with 4:36 remaining, RheinEnergie's lead had been cut to just 62-59.
Which player would most coaches like to have in their team when the game is on the line?
Yep, you guessed it - Michael Jordan.
RheinEnergie's Jordan, however, has the middle name Hakim and not Jeffrey like the NBA legend.
Nevertheless, he has been playing like His Airness of late, and he did so when burying a three-pointer right after Greer's dunk to reclaim a 65-59 lead.
Kyiv then did what experienced teams should not - they failed to beat the 24-second shot clock and turned the ball over.
With that, the game then slipped into a few minutes of turnovers and bad shooting from both sides which, unfortunately for Kyiv, meant the end for their chances on the night.
Greer turned the ball over, only for RheinEnergie to fail to get a shot off in time, and then Greer missed a lay-up.
Another turnover by Aleksandar Nadjfeji gave the ball back to Kyiv but their veteran Dragan Lukovski missed consecutive attempts from the arc and Loncar was off target with a lay-up.
Immanuel McElroy made a pair of free throws with just over a minute to play and RheinEnergie rode out the storm.
Poor free throw shooting could have cost the German team. They made just 19 of 29 (65.5%) in the game but fortunately for them, Kyiv also failed to hit all of their shots from the stripe (16 of 23) and finished with 69%.
Greer and Michael Harris each had 14 points in a losing cause. The result sets up an intriguing Game 3 on Wednesday back at Kyiv.