Alba Berlin kept its hold over a potent rival while putting one on first place in Group I with a 72-68 home win against DKV Joventut on Tuesday before 9,332 fans at o2 World in the German capital. Alba improved to 2-0 with one-third of the Last 16 games complete, while Joventut fell into a 1-1 tie for second place with Le Mans. Alba used an early 14-2 run to master the scoreboard and then turned back repeated attempts by Joventut to take back the lead. The last of those came at 68-66 with less than 3 minutes left, but Alba's defense answered the call to assure victory. Blagota Sekulic led Alba in scoring with 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting in the paint. Julius Jenkins added 16 points for the winners, while Rashad Wright and Immanuel McElroy posted 10 each. For Joventut, only Clay Tucker reached double figures in scoring, with 15 points, after the Alba defense had held him without a point during the game's first 18 minutes. Teenage guard Josep Franch came off the bench for 9 points without a missed shot in the second half for Joventut.
Alba has been Joventut's nemesis for more than a year now, having eliminated the Spanish team from last season's Euroleague Top 16 race with a pair of victories, too.
Joventut used the long ball - triples by Luka Bogdanovic and Bueno - to seize and early lead of 4-8. Wright and Sekulic turned the scoreboard around at 12-10 for Alba, but that was just the start of what would turn out to be a 14-2 run for the hosts. When Julius Jenkins and Immanuel McElroy added their layups to the end of it, the hosts held an 18-10 advantage. Although another triple, this time from Valters, revived Joventut, Alba was still in charge, 21-15, after 10 minutes. Alain Koffi and Valters, again from downtown, shot the visitors within 21-20 to start the second quarter, but Wright was able to protect the lead for Alba with his own three-point shot. He later added a layup and Jenkins a triple to make it 30-24, but Tucker's 5 points in a row again let Joventut threaten the lead. Jenkins had time to dial-up one more call from the arc that was good enough for Alba to hit the lockers still strong at 33-29.
The long-distance theme continued with Tucker's bomb to open the second half putting Joventut on the doorstep of the lead again, 33-32. Jenkins and Sekulic blocked that door, however, with good old-fashioned two-pointers in a 6-0 burst that gave Alba breathing room again at 39-32. Alba was content to trade baskets for a couple minutes. So even when Edu Hernandez-Sonseca's three-point play got Joventut as close as 43-39, Jenkins was there to match him with one shot. And when Uros Tripkovic joined the visitors' scoring column, so did Steffen Hamann for Alba. Joventut got another boost from teenage guard Franch, whose 4 points in a row made it 50-47, but Sekulic got most of them back to let Alba lead 53-47 after 30 minutes. Franch blasted a three-pointer to resume the process early in the fourth quarter, and when Tucker followed him a minute later, Joventut was still within striking distance, 58-55. But by then McElroy had scored 5 points in a row for Alba, and he was oon joined by Derrick Byars and Sekulic, who opened a 62-55 advantage. Franch's free throws were a pause before Jurica Golemac and Dragan Dojcin stretched Alba's lead to 66-57. Having seen the urgency at hand with under 5 minutes left, Tucker hit a layup and Pere Tomas a triple to keep the visitors close. And they weren't done. After free throws by Jenkins, Tomas and Tucker each scored layups to make it 68-66 and force an Alba timeout with less than 3 minutes left. The momentum turned when Sekulic rebounded a blocked shot and put it back to steady the hosts, when then got a layup from McElroy as insurance before finishing with defense a victory worth first place in Group I.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010