Lukoil Academic, the reigning basketball powerhouse in Bulgaria defeated Levski in a game from Round 16 of the National Basketball League, which considered by many had to be a “derby”. However Lukoil didn’t had much trouble beating the current Balkan League champions Levski 93:85.
The game was played in the Sports Complex in Pravets, as the home side Academic started better, mainly due to their opponent’s bad shooting in the opening minutes of the game. Lukoil was ahead for most of the first quarter but a couple of turnovers turned things around and Levski had a 1-point advantage after 10 minutes – 19:20.
In the second period Lukoil opened up the score as 220-cm tall Croatian Bruno Sundov scored a three-pointer for 22:20. Levski tied the score at 22:22 after a basket by Priest Lauderdale, but the home side scored 8 unanswered points – another three-pointer by Sundov, basket by Travis Peterson and a long-range bomb by Brandon Heath for 30:22. Lukoil managed to keep their lead through out the second quarter and at halftime they still had an 8-point lead – 49:41.
After the halftime break Lukoil’s lead went up to 9 points – 52:43, but Levski answered with a six to nothing run to decrease their losing to just three points – 52:49. The trouble for Levski was just about to start as their 222-cm tall star Priest Lauderdale made his fourth personal foul early in the third and hat to sit on the bench. Despite PL’s absence Levski made a complete turnaround and after a fastbreak finished by Pavel Ivanov after an assist for Jason Crowe they led the game 57:58. Despite that after 30 minutes of play Lukoil Academic remained ahead, this time by only 3 points – 70:67.
The fourth period was marked by the intense battle between the two giants in the paint – Bruno Sundov (220, Lukoil) and Priest Lauderdale (222, Levski) as both of them had already reached the mark of four personal fouls, and the one who would foul out first would eventually give the other team some advantage. PL fouled out around the middle of the fourth quarter and seemed like everything was already decided – Lukoil’s lead continued to grow, reaching 19 points at one point (89:70). Levski managed to decrease the difference, as after 40 minutes it was only 8 points – 93:85, but Lukoil once again had the win, making their balance against Levski 3-0 so far in the season.
This was Lukoil Academic’s 16th win in a row from the begining of the champioship in Bulgaria, as they kept the first place in the table – with a 16-0 balance. Levski remained second, adding another disappointing loss to their balance which is now 13-3 as all the losses are from Lukoil.
Todor Stoykov, Academic’s captain scored 16 points in his team’s winning effort. Brandon Heath also had 16 coming off the bench, as he added 5 rebounds and 5 assists to his statline. Devin Green scored 14 points plus 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while Tencho Banev and Travis Peterson added 9 points each.
Aaron Harper led Levski with 31 points. Point guard Jason Crowe added 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists and Priest Lauderdale was the last player from Levski to score in double digits – 12 points. Pavel Ivanov finished the game with 9 points.