Oldenburg and Mahalbasic overpower Reyer
EWE Baskets Oldenburg started its 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 journey in style by beating Umana Reyer Venice 98-87 on Wednesday night. The hosts built a double-digit lead at halftime and extended it to 26 points late in the third quarter to never look back. Reyer saw its eight-game winning streak snapped in losing its first EuroCup game since early October. Oldenburg was led by Rasid Mahalbasic, who scored 25 points on 12-of-13 two-point shooting to tie his career-high. He also grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and dished 5 assists for a PIR of 38, his best mark in the competition too. He was followed by Rickey Paulding with 17 points, while Braydon Hobbs added 14 plus 7 assists and Justin Sears contributed 10 points. Michael Bramos scored 14 points for Reyer, all of them in the second half, and Juylan Stone, Stefano Tonut and Mitchell Watt had 13, 12 and 11 respectively.
Things couldn’t have begun better for Venice, as Watt hit back-to-back three-pointers to give his team an early 0-6 lead. Mahalbasic and Philipp Schwethelm responded quickly, though, and combined on an 11-0 run to bring Oldenburg in front. The visitors struggled on offense, having turned the ball over seven times in the first 5 minutes. Paulding took over for the hosts with 7 points in a row to make it 18-13, but Austin Daye and Tonut showed up from behind the arc to set a 19-20 edge for Reyer. A triple by Tyler Larson and a pair of free throws by Sears switched the lead once again, 24-20, at the end of the first quarter. Stone and Gasper Vidmar came up big in the second and combined for 9 points to put Reyer in front, 28-29, but despite an awesome shooting accuracy from three, the Italian champs couldn’t retain the lead for long. Mahalbasic stepped in and sparked a 16-5 run, with half of the points coming from his hands. That lifted Oldenburg to a double-digit lead, 44-34. Even though Reyer tried to react through Ariel Filloy, the hosts remained hot on offense and reached halftime with a comfortable 54-43 margin.
The trend didn’t change much after the break, as Oldenburg kept finding easy baskets off great ball movement to strengthen its lead. Karsten Tadda made it a 16-point game after a corner three and Schwethelm increased the margin it even more, to 69-49, with another bomb midway through the third quarter. Things got even worse for Reyer when its bench was called for a technical foul, followed by another one on Watt, which allowed Oldenburg to keep living comfortably above the 20-point border. A late reaction capped by a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Tonut reduced the gap to 81-63 at the end of the third. Reyer didn’t give up, though, as a layup by Tonut and back-to-back triples by Andrea De Nicolao and Bramos got the visitors within 83-71 with still 7 minutes remaining. Oldenburg seemed to have lost its momentum and Bramos and Stone struck again with three consecutive three-point plays to make it 89-80 midway through the last quarter. The hosts returned to the basics, that was to give the ball to Mahalbasic and Paulding, good enough for a 6-0 run that cooled the game down and made it 95-80. Reyer kept trying to come back through three-point shooting, but they were unable to get closer than 10 points until a buzzer-beating basket by Stone finished the game with a 98-87 home win.
EWE Baskets Oldenburg faced the second-best defense in the competition; Umana Reyer Venice had allowed less than 72 points per game before this game. The hosts were able to dismantle Reyer's defensive structure all the way, scoring 73 points in just 26 minutes.
Only one can remain
Both teams came from strong winning streaks. The hosts had won their last four EuroCup games at home -and six of their last seven overall, while the visitors had collected eight wins in a row - including their last four on the road. It was no doubt that one of them would have to see its good streak snapped... and it was Reyer.
Close to perfection
The duel between Rasid Mahalbasic and Mitchell Watt, two of the best big men of the competition, was long-awaited. Even though the latter started strong with a couple of three-pointers on his two first attempts, the game belonged to the former, who didn’t miss a shot until the last minute. He finished with 25 points on 12-of-13 two-point shooting and became the go-to-guy when Reyer came back in the fourth quarter.
Umana Reyer Venice will head into an Italian derby next week when it hosts Germani Brescia Leonessa on Tuesday, January 14. EWE Baskets Oldenburg will travel to Greece to face Promitheas Patras the following day.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020