Spartak, Rakovic Rock Maroussi

27 November 2007

Spartak St Petersburg stunned Maroussi 84-75 in the EuroCup on Tuesday to advance to the Qualifying Round.

Beaten at home 65-62 last week, Spartak regrouped to claim a famous triumph with center Milan Rakovic pouring in a game-high 31 points and Damir Markota scoring 20 while pulling down 10 rebounds.

Maroussi were so impressive in Russia and they had enjoyed a strong position in the second leg but suffered a fourth-quarter meltdown.

Leading 65-57 with 9:11 remaining, they held an 11-point advantage on aggregate.

They were outscored 27-10 the rest of the way.

A Rakovic dunk came at the front of a 9-0 run that put Spartak ahead at 66-65.

Travan Bryant stopped the rot with a dunk for Maroussi to put them back in front, only for Rakovic to answer with a three-point play, taking his tally to 28 points and giving his team a 69-67 lead to leave the Russian team trailing by just one on aggregate.

After Bryant split two at the line to pull Maroussi to within 74-71 with 4:05 remaining, the tie was all square.

Neither side scored for more than a minute until Markota, who played for Croatia this summer at the EuroBasket, received a pass from Joseph Smith and drilled a jump shot for a 76-71 lead.

Rakovic and Maroussi’s Jason Parker would end up trading three-pointers to leave Spartak with a two-point lead on aggregate and keep the tie on a knife-edge with 47 seconds remaining.

Andrey Ivanov and Anton Yudin each made lay-ups in the final 16 seconds for Spartak as they managed to pull clear and win the tie by six points.

Maroussi undermined their chances by making just 10 of 18 shots (55%) at the free throw line.

Spartak won despite being out-rebounded 34-26.

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