Rostov Survive Zadar Fightback

17.01.2006

Lokomotiv Rostov set up an intriguing final two weeks in Group K of the EuroCup by holding on for a thrilling triumph at BC Zadar on Tuesday evening to leave both clubs with two victories and two defeats.

The visitors from Russia have not been in the best of form of late but they rode the hot hand of Afik Nissim, who poured in 27 points on eight of 12 shooting, including five of nine from three-point range, en route to an 89-81 triumph.

Rostov were ready to play in this game, storming out to a 32-17 advantage by the end of the first quarter.

Trailing 5-4 almost two minutes into the contest, Rostov went on a 9-2 run.

Jaime Lloreda's lay-up capped the spurt for a 13-7 lead with 5:50 remaining.

After Jure Lalic's basket trimmed the deficit to four, a three-pointer from former Russian international Andrey Fetisov sparked a 9-0 run with field goals from Konstantin Nesterov, Lloreda and Nissim taking the advantage to 22-9 with 3:40 to go in the opening quarter.

The lead ballooned to 21 inside the final minute of the first half after a pair of free throws from Nissim gave the Russians a 53-32 lead.

A lot of clubs might give up in the face of such a huge deficit, but not Zadar.

They never quit. Just as they fought back from three successive defeats to start the EuroCup to win three on the trot and qualify for Round II, Zadar hit back in this game to make it interesting.

The third quarter belonged to the home side, who used a balanced scoring attack to cut Rostov's lead to 61-55 with 41 seconds to play in the frame.

Rostov managed to keep their noses in front, but Zadar refused to go away.

Four times they closed to within five points in the fourth quarter, including when Damir Tvrdic sank two shots from the charity stripe with 2:44 to play to make it 79-74.

Nineteen seconds later and Nissim settled his team's nerves with a three-pointer at the other end to take the lead to 82-74.

Zadar refused to go away, however.

Jakov Vladovic's two free throws with 39 seconds remaining cut the lead to 83-79, and Zadar fouled Mark Dickel but the New Zealand international point guard sank both shots.

Julius Johnson trimmed the deficit to four again at 85-81 with two free throws just 23 seconds from the end and Tvrdic fouled to stop the clock, however, Nesterov calmly made both attempts from the line to push the lead back to 87-81.

Zadar's Dean Oliver missed a three-pointer and Rostov rebounded to end the home team's threat.

The hosts ended up ice cold from the floor, making just 18 of 44 (40.9%) inside the arc and five of 25 (20%) behind it.

The Croatians did get to the free throw line and sank 30 of 35 (85.7%), but they were out-rebounded 36-31 in the game.


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