Alba Berlin survived a tough road game at DKV Joventut to walk away with a 62-68 win and first place in Group I. Berlin advances to face Hapoel Jerusalem in the Quarterfinals, which get underway in two weeks. Berlin fought back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter and held on late despite getting outrebounded 34-23. Berlin was near perfect from the line, making 20 of 22 shots (90.9%), to improve its record to 4-2. Joventut, in its first game under new head coach Pepu Hernandez, struggled at times and committed a dooming 19 turnovers. Immanuel McElroy paced the winners with 14 points and 6 rebounds. Derrick Byars added 11 and Adam Chubb 10. Uros Tripkovic paced Joventut with 17 points, Luka Bogdanovic added 10 and Kristaps Valters finished with 9 points and 7 assists in defeat as Joventut dropped to 3-3 and finished its Eurocup run. The game was close for much of the night, despite several runs by each team. But Berlin had the last run. With the score tied 48-48, Wright scored half his team’s points in a 1-10 charge that gave the visitors control for good.
Berlin took control early, despite Antonio Bueno’s basket to open the scoring in Joventut’s favor. Blagota Sekulic scored twice and Julius Jenkins drilled a three as the visitors reeled off 9 unanswered points, prompting a Joventut timeout. The hosts slowly regrouped and held Berlin scoreless for several minutes as a Valters triple and a Bogdanovic jumper made it a 2-point game. Dragan Dojcin ended the Berlin drought only to see Tripkovic drill back-to-back triples to cap an 11-2 run and give Joventut the lead. Chubb scored inside for Berlin, but Tripkovic’s free throws made it 15-13 after 10 minutes. Strong defenses continued to dominate in the second quarter as well. Alain Koffi got on the scoreboard with 3 free throws for the hosts, but Steffen Hamann answered with a layup and Sekulic made it 18-18 from the line midway through the quarter. Christian Eyenga and Jenkins traded baskets, but Henk Norel kept the hosts ahead on the offensive glass. Norel continued to play strong inside, stretching the lead to 26-20 by the end of the half.
Joventut continued to improve early in the third quarter as Bogdanovic scored from outside and Bueno inside, taking the hosts’ lead to double figures, 32-22. Threes from Dojcin and Byars rallied Berlin, however Tripkovic kept Joventut in control. A second triple from Byars and a basket from McElroy brought Alba within 3, but a pair of clutch triples from Clay Tucker gave the hosts some breathing room. McElroy made it 42-35 from the line at the end of the third quarter. Chubb scored inside and Jenkins scored on the break to get Berlin within 2 and cause Joventut to take a timeout early in the fourth quarter. Valters got to the line and made a free throw, but Berlin kept working the ball inside and baskets by Chubb and Sekulic gave Berlin a 43-44 edge. Eyenga and Chubb traded free throws before Bogdanovic connected from downtown to tie the score at 48-48. Chubb put Berlin back ahead and Byars netted his third three of the night to put Berlin up by 5. Rashad Wright added a triple to make it 49-56 and silence the crowd. With its season on the line, Joventut started to bomb from outside and both Tripkovic and Bogdanovic hit, but Berlin held steady from the line. Rashad Wright and McElroy were both 4 for 4 from the line in the final minute to wrap up a key road win.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010