Lukoil Academic won the Cup of Bulgaria, after defeating the 2010 champion Levski 81:80 in an interesting and dramatic game in Universiada Hall in Sofia. The Students won the Cup for the last time in 2008. In 2009 they lost the final to Levski, while last year they were eliminated in the semifinals against Rilski Sportist.
The game was really interesting from the very beginning, as neither team could break ahead, and after 10 minutes of play the score was tied – 19:19. In the second period, Lukoil’s coach Jovica Arsic put in the game 21-year old Bozhidar Avramov, and that was actually a turning point in the contest, as the youngster shot 5/5 for three points in the first half, to give his team a 49:43 lead halfway through the game. After the halftime break, Lukoil continued to dictate the play, and didn’t let their opposition get much closer. However, after strong plays by Aaron Harper and Jason Crowe, Levski managed to decrease the difference to 3 points after 30 minutes of play – 63:60.
In the fourth quarter, Lukoil’s big men got into foul trouble, and after Damjan Stojanovski fouled out late in the third, now Tencho Banev and Bruno Sundov followed him to the bench. In the decisive moments, with less than 3 minutes to go Lukoil held a 72:71 lead. The team captain Todor Stoykov scored a three and made two free-throws to give his team a 77:73 lead, before Jason Crowe answered with a three for 77:76. Asen Velikov scored a three for 78:79 with about a minute to go, but Lukoil’s response was a basket by Devin Green who entered the game for the first time in the second half, and scored for 81:80, after Aaron Harper made a free-throw. In their last offense of the game, Levski inbounded the ball in frontcourt with 8.3 seconds to go, and Pavel Ivanov was double-teamed before passing the ball to a wide open Asen Velikov in the corner, who missed his three point attempt. Pavel Ivanov missed the tip-in in the last second, and Lukoil grabbed the win by 81:80.
Bozhidar Avramov scored 21 points (7/13 from long range) along with 6 assists in his team’s win. Todor Stoykov finished with 12, while Vesko Veselinov scored 9 coming off the bench and showing great hustle and teamwork.
Aaron Harper was Levski’s best player, scoring 32 points and adding 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Jason Crowe finished with 15 points and 4 assists.
The 2011 Bulgarian Cup holders defeated Euroins Cherno More (93:72) in the quarterfinals, Rilski Sportist (85:68) in the semifinals and Levski in the final in order to get the gold. Bozhidar Avramov was voted for MVP of the tournament, after his great performance in the final game.
Meanwhile, Rilski Sportist finished third and got the bronze medals, after defeating Yambol 83:75 in the 3rd place game yesterday.