Donar triumph against SL Benfica in overtime; close in on Group P leaders
GRONINGEN (FIBA Europe Cup) – Donar Groningen overcame a sturdy yet once again insufficient effort by SL Benfica, downing the visitors from Portugal 81-78 in overtime to get right back in the chase for a FIBA Europe Cup Round of 16 spot in Group P.
A phenomenal performance by Lance Jeter at the end of regulation and in the extra period allowed the Dutch side to improve to a 3-2 mark in the standings, closing the gap between them and the two runaway leaders Enisey and Lukoil Academic.
Turning Point: After sending the game to overtime with a triple at the end of the fourth period, Mario Fernandes had the chance to do the same in the extra period, but this time couldn’t deliver for SL Benfica. With the Portuguese down by a pair, the 34-year-old veteran playmaker drew a foul and had a chance to tie the game from the free-throw line. Having converted the first shot, he couldn’t keep his composure for the second one. On the other end, Justin Dourisseau sealed the win with two freebies from the stripe after an intentional foul.
Spannend!!! pic.twitter.com/KQJntHC4dt— Donar (@Donar_Official) January 17, 2017
Game Hero: Three-pointers by Derek Raivio and Carlos Morais knocked the wind out of Donar’s sails early in the fourth quarter, inspiring a 14-0 run for SL Benfica who had jumped out in front with a 61-56 lead after trailing by nine early in the period. However, coach Erik Braal’s decision to re-insert starting point guard Lance Jeter back on the court paid immediate dividends, with the player bringing Donar back into the game. The 28-year-old American playmaker scored 15 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime, bringing his tally to a game-high 29 points to go along 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals.
Stats Don’t Lie: Groningen were in full attack mode throughout the game and were rewarded handsomely for their aggressiveness on the offensive end. Although the Dutch side left quite a lot of points at the free-throw line, making 24-of-34, but their Portuguese rivals attempted only eight free throws, making six.
The Bottom Line: Donar did what they needed to do and improved to a 3-2 record, making a bold statement to Group P leaders Enisey and Lukoil Academic that they are serious about contending for a place in the next round. The Dutch club would climb up to second place in the standings if Academic were to come out on top in the leader clash in Sofia on Wednesday.