Richard, Bircevic send U-BT Cluj-Napoca to huge win

2022-04-05T19:48:47+00:00 2022-04-05T21:01:38+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

05/Apr/22 19:48

Experience counts down the stretch as U-BT Cluj-Napoca edges MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg

By Johnny Askounis/

Entering Romania in the Basketball Champions League Quarterfinals map and in front of 10,000 passionate fans, U-BT Cluj-Napoca defeated MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, 76-73, to go up 1-0 in the best-of-three series Tuesday.

American-born naturalized Romanian Patrick Richard and Serbian international Stefan Bircevic combined for a total of ten points in the fourth period and three huge triples in crunch time. They ended up with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Out of multiple experienced players, Brandon Brown was influential as well. He scored 11 out of his 12 points after the break, including eight in the last quarter of Game 1. Dishing out a game-high seven assists was another major contribution.

“This was an exciting game for all of us and it came down to the wire,” said Dustin Hogue after chipping in eight points and eight rebounds, “Our team just had enough heart to put together some stops and pull down some rebounds in order to close out the win.”

The effective defense delivered by the hosts through most of the second half was met with a brilliant reaction down the stretch. Backed by tremendous crowd support, the hosts dug their way out of a seven-point deficit. A 9-0 sprint generated a 74-68 lead with less than two minutes left. The ensuing comeback bid by Ludwigsburg fell short as Jonah Radebaugh dropped a couple of opportunities in the final seconds.

Radebaugh, 24, logged a game-high 16 points but missed a couple of free throws with his side trailing 74-73 and a three-pointer at the buzzer. Justin Simon and Ethan Happ finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively, at BTarena. A couple of key players, Tremmell Darden and Tekele Cotton were sidelined with injuries.

The Romania champions, guided by Mihai Silvasan, will have the chance to sweep the series and progress to the Final Four next week. A potential loss in Germany would force a Game 3 and the quarterfinal rivals back to Cluj-Napoca.

Back in the 2017-18 season, John Patrick’s side actually eliminated the Romanian outlet in the second round of the Qualifiers. Ludwigsburg then went on to make the Final Four. Two wins in a row are now necessary to repeat the success.

Postgame press conference:

Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League