|Devin Green was red hot from three point land with 3 makes in 6 attempts in a convincing Lukoilwin|
Lukoil Academic beat Maccabi Haifa for the second time this season to move closer to the EuroChallenge Quarter-Finals.
Jovica Arsic's team claimed an 87-69 triumph, its third win in four Group I games in the Last 16.
After trailing 27-22 in the last minute of the first quarter, the Bulgarian side found its rhythm and eventually took a 53-35 lead with 43 seconds to go in the opening half.
Devin Green had 14 points and Dominic James 10 at the interval for the home side.
Haifa prevented the hosts from pulling away, though.
They threatened to reel them in the third quarter.
Behind 62-48, the visitors went on an 8-0 run over to close the gap to just six with 2:06 to play in the frame.
Lukoil, who entered the game with wins in two of their first three Last 16 games, knocked the wind out of the visitors with a 6-0 run early in the fourth.
On top 69-60 with 8:08 to go, James buried a three-pointer and was fouled on the shot.
He went to the line and sank the free-throw for a rare four-point play and the Sofia side added two more free-throws for a 75-60 advantage with 6:04 to go.
They were in command the rest of the game.
Green led the Lukoil scorers with 21 points on eight of 12 shooting, including three of six from behind the arc.
James added 15, Bruno Sundov 14 and Travis Peterson nine, along with 11 rebounds.
Haifa's Marco Killingsworth scored 20 points and corralled 11 boards but his team suffered its third defeat in four Last 16 games.
Jovica Arsic, head coach LUKOIL ACADEMIC:
"There is no 100% guarantee that we've made it into the elimination round yet. I'm pleased with the final score tonight but I couldn't be completely satisfied with our game. Haifa were able to score 27 points only in the 1st quarter, while we had only 3 fouls, a couple of which were "and1" baskets. Our defense wasn't good at all because we needed about 10 minutes before we started playing well enough on the defensive side. At one point we were unable to keep our lead at its highest because we weren't focused enough. Because of the fact that a lot of our players were caught by the flue within the last few days we didn't have normal working conditions in our practices. Hopefully all of us will be healthy. By using all of our players, we'll be able to practice better and respectively play better. Regarding my expectations for the upcoming game against Spartak, if we are given the chance of course we'll try to win. I have great respect for their team but if we'll definitely try to give our maximum and go to St. Petersburg for the win."
Todor Stoykov, LUKOIL ACADEMIC player and team captain:
"I believe that by winning tonight we've almost for sure qualified for the quarter finals of the tournament. This means that following the end of this group stage we'll have at least another two games within the EuroChallenge which is good for our team. Hopefully we'll be able to move on. The team of Haifa is a serious team and they have good players. They were able to decrease our lead and come back into the game. However, the most important thing is to win, no matter by how many points. There shouldn't be any tension for us in our next game against the team of Spartak on the road. We'll try to win but if we don't we'll keep looking ahead, it won't be a big deal if we lose. The important thing is to qualify into the next phase and have a positive mindset."