Referees: Marcello Reatto (ITA), Matej Spendl (SLO), Bojan Jovanic (BIH)
Zagreb Edge Spartak In Tight Tussle
Krunoslav Simon's two foul shots with 14 seconds left gave KK Zagreb an 80-76 victory at home over Spartak St Petersburg to tip-off play in Group C of the EuroCup Qualifying Round.
Jakov Vladovic's 19 points and seven assists paced five Zagreb players in double figures while Ante Tomic added 12 points and nine rebounds for Danijel Jusup's Croatian outfit.
St Petersburg fell to 0-1 in Group C, wasting a 22-point showing from Joe Smith as well as double-doubles from Damir Markota (15 points and 12 rebounds) and Milovan Rakovic (11 and 10).
Oleg Okulov's St Petersburg jumped ahead 14-6 on long-balls from Smith, Andrey Ivanov and Anton Yudin and a three-point play by Markota, but Zagreb answered with the final seven points of the first quarter to even things at 15-15.
The lead changed hands five times early in the second period and Smith's foul shots left Spartak ahead 30-25.
Smith later drained back-to-back three-pointers to push the gap to 38-31 before Gordan Zadravec's two baskets had St Petersburg ahead only 38-35 at the break.
Jurica Ruzic's triple gave Zagreb the lead 40-38 in the opening stages of the second half but Smith knocked down two more three-pointers in a 12-0 run for a 50-40 Spartak advantage.
The margin was 59-51 following Yudin's long-range effort while a three from Vladovic cut the gap to 60-56 going into the fourth.
Ivanov started the final period with a three-pointer for Spartak but Mario Dundovic answered with one of his own to show the hosts were in this game until the end.
Two Ivanov foul shots gave Okulov's team a 69-64 lead with seven minutes left.
However, Simon and Dundovic hit back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 70-70 with five minutes to play.
Zadravec knocked down a three-ball and three foul shots by Simon and Dunkovic left Zagreb ahead 76-70.
Rakovic cut the deficit to 78-76 on a lay-up with 37 seconds left.
St Petersburg got the ball back on a turnover by Zagreb forward Ivan Papac with 34 seconds left only to have Smith lose the ball with 19 seconds left, setting up Simon's game-deciding foul shots.
Quotes KK Zagreb vs. Spartak St. Petersburg
Damir Markota, Spartak St. Petersburg:
"We were the better team today but unfortunately we lost because we made some mistakes in last five minutes. Zagreb were tactically better. we had a lot of problems in the last period with injuries so, that is the main reason it ended badly."
Ante Tomić, KK Zagreb:
"I think that we win with heart. We had a very bad first half and we played bad against Spartak's zone defense. In the end we started to play faster, played good defense and that is the reason of our win. This win means us so much."
Oleg Okulov, Spartak head coach:
"We had a lot of problems with injuries. In the last ten days we had only seven or eight players in practice. In our group all four teams are on the same level and it will be very hard to go to the quarter final."
Danijel Jusup, KK Zagreb head coach:
Congratulation to my players. They played to the end, they never stopped believing they could win, even when Spartak had a ten points lead in the third quarter. This win is very important for us, for our confidencel and I believe in my team and I believe that we will play in the quarter-final."