Khimik Yuzhne let slip a 15-point third-quarter lead but halted a late assault by Tartu University Rock to claim an important 63-61 win on the road in a battle between previously undefeated teams in Group L.
Turning Point: A lay-up by Evaldas Zabas 30 seconds from time capped off a furious 9-0 Tartu run and the hosts chose to send Branden Frazier to the free-throw line. The Khimik guard kept his calm to make both shots from the stripe and Tartu called a time-out with 16 seconds left to play. They drew a play for Janar Talts to tie the scores but his three-pointer rimmed out. Vitalii Malchevskyi picked up the defensive rebound and was promptly fouled, splitting his free-throws to give the visitors a 63-59 cushion with only four seconds remaining.
Stats Don't Lie: Tartu won the battle on the glass but did not make the most of their 17 offensive rebounds, as they only scored eight second-chance points. Despite coming up with 14 offensive boards, Khimik scored 13 second-chance points.
Game Hero: Khimik relied on an admirable team effort as they used 11 players and ten of them wrote their name on the scoreboard. Frazier nonetheless, despite the fact he did not have one of his best games, deserves praise for making those crucial free-throws at a point where Tartu had seized momentum. He had a team-high 13 points.
The Bottom Line: Khimik now enjoy the solitude at the top of the Group L standings after three weeks of action. Tartu dropped to 2-1 and the second place in the group.
They Said: "We controlled the game most of the first half and got a big lead for the second. In the end we were tired and our minds were not in it, so we made some mistakes. But we pulled off a win in a tough atmosphere and I'm happy we got the win." - Khimik guard Branden Frazier.
"Khimik had done their homework perfectly against us and in the first half we didn't find the right passes and flow of the game. After the break we made some changes and tried to break their rhythm. The second half was better, but today our shots didn't fall. I have to give credit to our boys for fighting and we had a chance to tie the game, but unfortunately it didn't happen. We made our situation a bit more difficult, but everything is still up to us and now we have to concentrate more in the coming games." - Tartu Rock head coach Gert Kullamäe.