Alba Berlin made it to the Eurocup final!
Alba reached its first Eurocup title game by downing Bizkaia Bilbao Basket 77-70 in the second semifinal in
Vitoria, Spain on Saturday. Alba has returned to an European club competition final for the first time in 15 years - since winning the 1995 Korac Cup - and is
ready to face Power Electronics Valencia in the title game tomorrow. Meanwhile, Bilbao will try to look for its best-ever Eurocup result in the third place
game against Panellinios OPAP BC right before the Eurocup final. Dozens of Alba fans came to Buesa Arena by bus all the way to Berlin due to last-minute flight cancellations. Adam Chubb led the winners with 27 points on 11-of-16 two-pointers. Immanuel McElroy added 13 on 3-of-3 three-pointers, Julius Jenkins got 11 while Derrick Byars had 10 for Alba. Chris Warren led Bilbao with 14 points. Jerome Moiso added 12 while Alex Mumbru and Axel Hervelle each had 10. A 0-9 run that Mumbru capped with a layup allowed Bilbao to get an early 4-9 lead. Alba ran its offense through Byars and got some help from
Julius Jenkins and Adam Chubb to get a 18-15 edge late in this period. Hervelle struck from downtown for a 18-18 tie after 10 minutes. A three-pointer
by Rashad Wright boosted Alba's lead to 31-22 midway through the second quarter but Javi Salgado and a dominant Moiso allowed Bilbao to get within 35-30 at
halftime. Chubb took over after the break and three-pointers by McElroy and Jenkins gave Alba a 56-47 margin late in the third quarter. Alba kept
dominating the game with outstanding defense but Moiso, Hervelle and Mumbru got Bilbao within 67-64 with 2 minutes left. McElroy buried a critical three-pointer and free throws by Wright sealed the outcome to send Alba to the Eurocup title game.
Both teams struggled to score early, as Alba tried to get Blagota Sekulic involved to get Moiso into foul trouble. Byars got Alba going with 4-of-5
free throws, as Mumbru fouled him in a three-point attempt and then got a technical. Hervelle stepped up with a tip-in but Moiso set the crowd on
fire with a wild put-back dunk over Sekulic. Bilbao had already entered the foul bonus, but Salgado buried his trademark rainbow triple off the dribble and
fed Mumbru for a layup in transition that capped a 0-9 run and gave his team a 4-9 edge. Chubb scored down low and McElroy collected a steal and raced
downcourt for a layup, good for a 8-9 Alba deficit. Moiso sank free throws but Byars followed an acrobatic floating layup with a running hook to put Alba
back ahead, 12-11. Moiso scored down low and Chris Warren added a reverse layup, as Marko Banic came off the bench to improve his team's offense. Chubb sank
free throws, as Jenkins stepped on court for the first time in three weeks. He immediately delivered with a fast break layup but a catch-and-shoot
three-pointer by Hervelle tied it at 18-18 after 10 minutes.
Bilbao tried to improve its ball circulation with Javi Rodriguez, Blums and Ronnie Seibutis together on court early in the second quarter. Chubb took
over with a dunk-and-foul but a power layup by Banic got Bilbao within 21-20. Chubb rolled off a high-post pick for an easy basket and a wide open
three-pointer by Jurica Golemac forced Bilbao to call timeout at 26-20. Banic rescued Bilbao with a reverse layup that Jenkins erased with a big basket in
transition. Wright soon struck from downtown to make it a nine-point game, 31-22. Bilbao struggled to score but had started to power the offensive board.
Blums finished a two-chance Bilbao offense with a driving layup and Salgado copied him soon after that to make Alba call timeout at 31-26. Chubb shined with
a put-back basket that Warren erased with another driving layup, as Alba tried to slow down the game tempo. Moiso kept intimidating and rejecting shots but
Alba kept relying on its well-adjusted man-to-man defense. Moiso banked in a turnaround jumper but Chubb answered with a reverse layup off a timeout, good
for a 35-30 Alba lead at halftime.
Byars scored in penetration soon after the break, as Alba went back to its starting five, with Dragan Dojcin guarding Hervelle. Wright beat the shot clock
buzzer with a rainbow three-pointer but back-to-back baskets by Hervelle and Mumbru got Bilbao within 40-34. The game turned into a phsyical battle and
Bilbao made the most out of it, changing its momentum with strong, aggressive defense. Wright and Byars returned to the bench with 3 fouls eachbut McElroy
stepped up with a wild driving basket. Chubb sank a jump hook and then matched Warren's follow-up layup with another low post basket, good for a 46-38 score.
Mumbru scored in transition but Bilbao lacked patience to organize its offense. Hervelle, however, downed a fallaway jumper to make Alba call timeout at
46-42. McElroy silenced all Bilbao fans with a seven-meter bomb and Golemac beat the shot clock with an acrobatic jumper to keep Alba ahead, 51-44. Warren
and Salgado rescued Bilbao with free throws but Jenkins struck from downtown for a 56-47 score. Free throws by Warren brought Bilbao within 56-49 at the end
of the third quarter.
Alba kept following its game plan early in the fourth quarter, with a very patient offense trying to get McElroy and Sekulic involved. Seibutis downed foul
shots but Chubb finished yet another long Alba offense with an easy layup, good for a 58-51 lead with 8 minutes left. Bilbao kept struggling to score and
failed to get Banic involved but Blums took over with a seven-meter triple. Alba had started to use McElroy at point forward and kept slowing the game tempo.
McElroy took over with another three-pointer that kept Alba out of trouble, 61-54, with under 6 minutes to go. Blums, Damir Markota and Warren missed
consecutive shots from downtown but Moiso followed a layup with a baseline jumper to give his team some hope at 63-58. Chubb scored down low but Hervelle
answered from downtown to get Bilbao even closer, 65-61. Chubb - who else? - sank free throws but Mumbru downed a three-pointer for a 67-64 Bilbao deficit
with 2 minutes left. McElroy stepped up with a critical three-pointer and Dojcin collected a steal that allowed Wright to seal the outcome from the foul line, 72-64, with over a minute left. Another triple by Alba allowed its fans - that came by bus due to flight cancellations - to celebrate that their dream to win the Eurocup title is very much alive.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Javier Gancedo, Eurocupbasketball.com, Vitoria, Spain