Lukoil Academic won their home game from Group I of Eurochallenge’s Last 16, defeating Israeli side Barak Netanya 84:76. After tonight’s win Lukoil improved to 2-1 and are second in the table after Spartak St. Petersbourg (3-0), while Netanya remained on the bottom without a win after 3 games played.
The Bulgarian champions should’ve won easily and by a much bigger margin, but in the fourth quarter they almost let the their opponent turn things around, but however the visitors didn’t take all of their chances.
The game started great for the home side, as Travis Peterson scored the first 9 points for Lukoil Academic, giving them a 9-2 lead. On the other side Romeo Travis answered by scoring 6 points and erasing Lukoil’s margin early in the first. The game was tied at 19:19 less than three minutes before the end of the first, but after 10 minutes of play Natanya held a 1-point lead – 20:21.
In the second quarter, thanks to the great play of their bench players Lukoil dominated the opposition and started building up their lead. At halftime they were up by 14 – 48:34, after Damjan Stojanovski came up off the bench with 10 points, and also youngster Bozhidar Avramov was organizing the team well on offense.
After the halftime break there was still only one time playing good basketball on the court – Lukoil Academic, as a few minutes into the third quarter the home side was up by almost 20 points (55:36). However Barak Netanya once again tried to cut down the deficit, but they could only bring it down to 12 points before the end of the third period, and after 30 minutes they were losing by the same difference they started the second half with – 14 points (65:51).
The visiting side seemed really motivated to get something out of this game in the begining of the fourth quarter and they made a 13:2 run, which decreased their losing to only 3 points – 67:64. It was looking like the scenario from the loss against Spartak St. Petersbourg is happening again as the difference was only a single point (75:74) 1.20 before the final buzzer, but a couple of missed free throws by Netanya and on the other side made FT’s by Lukoil sealed the Bulgarian team’s second win in the Last 16 so far – 84:76.
Travis Peterson had a great game for Lukoil tonight, as he registered a double-double – 17 points and 10 rebounds. Damjan Stojanovski scored 15 points in 22 minutes off the bench, missing just one shot (6/7 FG), and Bruno Sundov also landed a double-double – 11 points and 11 rebounds. Bozhidar Avramov was the last player to score in double digits, as the young playmaker had 13 points and 5 assists in 20 minutes of play.
Romeo Travis had an outstanding performance for Netanya in their losing effort. The former University of Akron player scored a game-high 32 points and also added 14 rebounds plus 2 blocked shots. Christopher Watson was the only other Netanya player to finish with more than 10 points, as he scored 11.