Nes Ziona downed Sporting CP 86-81 to get their FIBA Europe Cup campaign underway with a hard earned victory. Brad Greenberg’s squad held a 6-point lead at halftime but the Lisbon based squad used a 27-16 third quarter to give ahead with just ten minutes left in the game. However, intelligent and gutsy play by Patrick Miller, Tal Dunne and Lior Carreira helped Nes Ziona overcome the deficit to snatch the win despite being out-rebounded 48-31 and only shooting 3/22 from beyond the arc.
Patrick Miller and Wayne Selden each scored 17 points, Tal Dunne added 15 points, Jerome Meynisse put in 13 points whole Lior Carreira chipped in with 12 points in the win. Travante Williams led Sporting with 22 points and Micah Downs added 13 points in the loss.
Tal Dunne and Braian Angola scored for Nes Ziona early on in the first quarter while Lior Carreira and Patrick Miller found points as well to counter Sporting’s John Fields and James Ellisor as Brad Greenberg’s squad took a 22-20 lead after ten minutes.
Carreira and Dunne got to work as the second quarter got underway while Jerome Meyinsse and Wayne Selden scored as well with the latter putting down a mega dunk to cancel out points Travante Williams and Joao Fernandes as Nes Ziona went into halftime with a 42-36 advantage.
Selden and Dunne pushed Nes Ziona into a double digit lead quickly in the third quarter but Shakir Smith, Micah Downs and Williams began making their shots to grab a 63-58 lead.
Williams kept scoring at will while Sporting continued to hammer Nes Ziona on the boards but Dunne and Selden to pull within 2-points, 72-70 with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter. But Miller with a pair of layups, Meynisse with free throws and a monster dunk and Carreira with a nice 3-point play sealed the deal to take the 86-81 win.
Digging in Deep
Nes Ziona hadn’t played a competitive game in a number of weeks due to the nationwide lockdown and it certainly showed throughout the contest whether it was going 3/22 from deep or turning over the ball 21 times. However, Brad Greenberg’s troops dug in deep when they were in trouble and came away with a hard fought win. Now Sporting isn’t exactly one of the great all-time teams in Europe despite being 15-0 in domestic competition but they did outrebound Nes Ziona to the tune of 48-31 including 21 offensive rebounds. But that was balanced out by their 28 turnovers in quite a sloppy game of basketball. “Sporting is a very hard team to play against, super aggressive – especially on the defensive end,” explained Greenberg following the win. “They forced us to make a lot of plays. I have to give our guards a lot of credit for handling Sporting’s pressure for 40 minutes, especially late in the game. We found the energy to come back after we lost the lead, it was a very strong game for us. We haven’t played in close to 4 weeks, so responding in the clutch against a strong opponent was a very strong sign for us.”
T is for Technical
With the score 70-64 in favor of Sporting with 6:39 left in the game, Greenberg sensed that the game was getting away from his team and Greenberg did what he’s best at doing working the refs and getting called for a technical. Well that woke his team up as they went on a 22-11 swing to end the game with the victory. But it wasn’t just the “T” that Greenberg was responsible for. With the score 83-81 in favor of Nes Ziona and just 20 seconds left on the clock, the bench boss called a timeout to set up a brilliant inbounds play. The coach had his squad take the ball the full length of the court in just 2 seconds on two passes getting it into a wide open Carreira under the basket who put it in for an easy two points and a foul to put the finishing touches on the win.
Carriera was definitely the X-Factor for Nes Ziona with a dozen points in 15 minutes as the youngster came up huge for Greenberg who has a soft spot for the forward. Before the tournament, the coach told me that he was going to have to play Carreira out of position for parts of the game due to a lack of big men and it’s clear that he very much admires his hustle and quality hard working play. Carreira didn’t let his coach and team down and scored important points, playing a big factor in the victory as he spoke about the game that was, ”We played well in the first half and managed to secure a promising lead, but we lost our edge and let Sporting come back into the game. They are a good team, so I’m glad we managed to recover in time with defensive energy, big stops and clutch buckets. That is what won the game for us.”
Gotta put in a good word for Patrick Miller, the MVP of the game. The guard was stellar whether on defense or offense, not only were his 17 points critical in the win but played his heart out for 34+ minutes. There’s no question that he left it all out on the court and used every ounce of energy to help will Nes Ziona to the win, “It was a tough game. Sporting is a very aggressive team – both on defense and on offense. We had control for most of the first half of the game, they came back in the second half and ‘punched’ us. I’m proud we managed to fight back and get the lead back, got stops and rebounds when it mattered. I managed to get going, picked my game up for my team. It was a hard-fought game, I’m glad we have a day off tomorrow so we can recover and prepare for the two games we have in a row.”