Power Electronic Valencia Champ!
Power Electronics Valencia is the Eurocup champion for the second time in club history. Power Electronics became the second club to lift the Eurocup trophy twice on Sunday when it beat Alba Berlin 44-67 in the title game in Vitoria, Spain. With the victory, Valencia earned the right to play in the 2010-11 Euroleague. Valencia, the competition's original champion back in 2003, set a new Eurocup final record by allowing just 22 points in the first half. Pushed by a sea a orange and purple fans, Valencia used outstanding defense to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer and denied Alba the chance to win its first European club title since 1995. Matt Nielsen was named Eurocup Finals MVP and his frontcourt mate, Kosta Perovic, paced the winners with 17 points. Head coach Neven Spahija, who has lifted five different domestic league trophies all over the continent and reached the ULEB Cup final in 2003, won his first European title - just like almost every player on his team's roster. Thomas Kelati added 13 points and Marko Marinovic 12 for the winners. Derrick Byars and Steffen Hamann scored 9 apiece for Berlin in defeat. A three-pointer by Nando De Colo ignited a 0-11 run in which Marinovic and Kelati also struck from downtown to give Power Electronics a 10-19 edge early in the second quarter. Byars and Julius Jenkins tried to change things for Alba, but Serhiy Lishchuk, an inspired Kelati and a wild buzzer-beating jumper by De Colo gave Valencia a 22-36 lead at halftime. Nothing changed after the break, as Valencia stayed strong on defense and boosted its lead to 33-48 after 30 minutes, enough to keep full control of the game until the final buzzer. It took Valencia seven years to lift the Eurocup trophy for a second time, but thousands of fans had the chance to celebrate that their team was once again a European champion.
There were no surprises in the starting lineups, with Dragan Dojcin lining up to use his versatility against Matt Nielsen at power forward. Victor Claver needed just 20 seconds to fire up the Valencia fans with a wild tomahawk dunk in traffic. Kosta Perovic soon added a hook shot for a 0-4 Power Electronics lead. Alba picked up a 24-second violation and went scoreless through the opening three minutes. Derrick Byars stepped up with a three-pointer from the corner and Blagota Sekulic added a tip-in to give Alba its first lead, 4-5. Alba brought big men Adam Chubb and Jurica Golemac off the bench and had finally adjusted its defense, not allowing easy shots, but entered the foul bonus midway through the first quarter. Perovic took advantage with a big basket in the low post and free throws. Alba kept rotating its players to play with high intensity at both ends and Steffen Hamann struck from downtown to tie it at 8-8. Valencia tried to improve its offense with Kelati on the court and even when Hamann scored in penetration, De Colo bettered that with a three-pointer that put Valencia back ahead, 10-11, at the end of the first quarter.
Marinovic buried a big triple early in the second quarter as Valencia tried twin points with him and De Colo to speed up its offense. Claver collected a steal and raced downcourt for a fast break layup that saw Alba call timeout at 10-16. Alba had been scoreless for more than six minutes already as Kelati joined the three-point shootout to boost Valencia's lead to 10-19 with a 0-11 run. Sekulic tried to change things with a second-chance tip-in, but a red-hot Kelati matched him with a step-back jumper. Byars took over and got the Alba fans involved with an acrobatic layup-plus-foul, but free throws by Marinovic kept Valencia way ahead, 15-23. Jenkins downed a corner triple only to see an off-balance shot by Marinovic and a driving basket by Lishchuk force Alba to stop the game again at 18-27. A fast break layup off another midcourt steal by Kelati soon gave Valencia its first double-digit lead. Lishchuk kept intimidating the entire Alba frontcourt with physical defense and aggressiveness, setting Valencia's pace on defense. Nielsen hit free throws, but Jenkins bettered him with a bomb from downtown. Kelati sank a floating layup and De Colo beat the buzzer with a five-meter jumper that fixed the halftime score at 22-36.
De Colo stepped up with a put-back layup immediately after the break, as Alba tried to play more aggressive in defense. Immanuel McElroy, who was held scoreless in the first half, shined with an off-balance jumper and fed Byars for a three-pointer that gave Alba some hope at 27-38. Nielsen banked in a close shot and Perovic dunked to keep Valencia out of trouble. Alba kept trying to get its big men involved, but Valencia stayed rock-solid under the rims. Chubb found space for a backdoor layup, but he didn't find much help. Valencia stayed patient on offense through an outstanding De Colo and soon took Alba into the foul bonus. Perovic provided a highlight with a big dunk in traffic and soon added a hook shot to break the game open, 29-46. Hamann tried to ignite Alba's comeback with free throws. Alba, however, kept struggling to find answers against Valencia's fully-adjusted man-to-man defense. Nielsen took over and sent the Valencia fans to their feet with a monster block on Hamann and an up-and-under layup by Marinovic made it a 17-point game. A layup by Hamann got Alba within 33-48 at the end of the third quarter.
Alba kept struggling to score early in the fourth quarter, as Valencia kept full control of the game. Kelati stepped up with a layup and Lishchuk split free throws to make it an 18-point game with eight minutes left. Alba could not find answers on offense until Rashad Wright struck from downtown. Valencia had already started to use long possessions to run the game clock down. Florent Pietrus found his first points on a reverse layup - and the free throw that came with it - as Alba kept missing open shots in crunch time. A three-point play by Nielsen allowed Valencia to seal the outcome, 35-57, with under six minutes left. Valencia stayed intense on defense, however, and a seven-meter bomb by Marinovic signaled to the Valencia fans to start to celebrate, 35-60. Everything was said and done, as Alba had a bitter end to its best Eurocup season ever. Meanwhile, Valencia had plenty of time to enjoy one of the sweetest win in club history, as Power Electronics prepared to lift the Eurocup trophy!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Javier Gancedo, Eurocupbasketball.com, Vitoria, Spain