Valencia Basket became the Last 16 Group I champion by downing BCM Gravelines 79-61 at home on Tuesday. Valencia improved to 5-0 in Group I and mathematically clinched first place, earning the right to play Game 2 of the Quarterfinals in front of its fans. Gravelines dropped to 0-5 and had already run out of chances to reach the next round last week. Valencia Basket celebrated 200 games in European club competitions in a pre-game ceremony in which the 1998-99 team, the club's first squad in Europe - was honored. Serhiy Lishchuk paced the winners with 14 points. Rafa Martinez added 12, Victor Claver had 11 while Florent Pietrus got 10 for Valencia. Andrew Albicy led Gravelines with 18 points. Ludovic Vaty added 12 for Gravelines, that lost J.R. Reynolds early in the game due to an ankle injury. Gravelines stayed within 46-44 early in the third quarter but a 13-1 that Rodrigo San Miguel capped with a three-pointer sealed the outcome, 59-45, as the guests never recovered.
Albicy got Gravelines going with a layup off a steal that Pietrus matched with a tip-in. Vaty shined with a second-chance layup and Albicy erased Pietrus' dunk with a layup, good for a 4-6 Gravelines lead. Martinez struck from downtown and an alleyoop dunk by Pietrus set the crowd on fire at 9-6. Abdulaye Loum answered from downtown but Lishchuk matched it with a layup-plus-foul. J.K. Edwards scored in the paint and Reynolds followed a jumper with a three-pointer that put Gravelines back ahead, 14-16. Nando De Colo sank a jumper that a red hot Reynolds bettered with another triple. Brad Newley took over with a tip-in and a layup off a steal to tie the game, 19-19, after 10 minutes. Albicy struck from downtown early in the second quarter, as Reynolds left the game with a severely sprained ankle. Vaty scored around the basket and added free throws for a 22-27 lead, forcing Valencia to call timeout. Vaty scored again but Claver buried a triple for a 26-29 score. Rudy Jomby and Yannick Bokolo sank free throws but three-pointers by Martinez, Claver and Newley gave Valencia a 35-32 margin. Loum scored in the paint but Martinez had 4 points in a 6-0 run that boosted Valencia's lead for a 41-34 score. A buzzer-beating layup by Bokolo brought Gravelines within 41-36 at halftime.
Jomby buried a three-pointer right after the break and free throws by Vaty tied it at 41-41, as Valencia went scoreless in the opening 2 minutes. Vitor Faverani made 3-of-4 foul shots and a layup by Martinez gave Valencia some fresh air at 46-42. Albicy nailed a jumper that De Colo matched with a close basket. Lishchuk shined with a power layup and a put-back basket by Pietrus made it a seven-point game, 52-45. Free throws by an unstoppable Pietrus fixed the score at 54-45 after 30 minutes. Lishchuk hit free throws early in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer by San Miguel broke the game open, 59-45, after a 13-1 run. Bokolo took over with a put-back layup and Albicy soon gave Gravelines some hope at 59-49. It didn't last long, however, as A.J. Ogilvy scored around the basket and San Miguel nailed his second three-pointer to seal the outcome, 64-51, with over 6 minutes to go. Bokolo took over with an acrobatic basket but Albicy and Claver traded three-pointers for a 71-56 Valencia margin. Jomby and Albicy kept trying but it was already too little, too late for the guests, as Valencia had cruised to a well-deserved win.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012