ALBA survives OT, forces decider
The 2018-19 7DAYS EuroCup season will go down to the final game! ALBA Berlin bounced back from its initial loss in the best-of-three series by forcing overtime and downing Valencia Basket 95-92 in Game 2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena on Friday. The series is now tied at 1-1 and Valencia will have home-court advantage in Game 3 at 20:30 CET on Monday, April 15. In a game in which neither team held a lead bigger than 7 points, Peyton Siva was one of ALBA’s heroes, making a layup with 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime, 83-83. ALBA opened the extra time with back-to-back threes from Rokas Giedraitis and Luke Sikma, and never relinquished that lead. Giedraitis had 17 points to lead all ALBA’s scorers, while Sikma had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Siva and Martin Hermannsson each had 14 points plus 6 assists, and Niels Giffey netted 11 points in victory. Sam Van Rossom kncoked down 6-of-8 triples for Valencia, scoring 22 points. Fernando San Emeterio scored 16, and Will Thomas had 15 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in defeat.
Mike Tobey had a three-point play and San Emeterio struck twice from downtown to give Valencia an early 6-9 lead. Will Thomas and Van Rossom each hit one from beyond the arc to keep Valencia in front, but a jump hook by Sikma and a three-pointer from Franz Wagner helped put ALBA in front. Another three from Wagner and a driving layup from Siva gave the hosts a 23-21 lead after 10 minutes. The teams continued trading blows, with Matt Thomas burying a three-pointer, while Sikma scored twice inside. A three from Joan Sastre put Valencia back ahead, 27-29, but Hermannsson’s 6 quick points restored ALBA’s advantage, before Giedraitis and Johannes Thiemann fueled a 7-0 run for a 40-33 ALBA margin. However, Dubljevic, San Emeterio and Will Thomas brought Valencia within 42-39 at halftime, and the same three players put together another 0-6 run that had Valencia with 47-48 lead in the third quarter. A three-pointer by Giedraitis and a layup-plus-foul from Giffey put ALBA in front again, 62-59 after 30 minutes. Sikma downed a jump hook early in the fourth quarter but Van Rossom did better with a bomb from downtown and a layup by Aaron Doornekamp tied it at 66-66 with 7 minutes left. Louis Labeyrie scored twice around the basket to cap a 0-9 Valencia run, but Giffey ignited the crowd with a huge dunk before a three-pointer by Van Rossom gave the guests a 66-71 edge with 3 minutes left. Joshiko Saibou and Siva tried to change things for the hosts and a layup by Sikma gave ALBA hope, before a three-point play by Thiemann tied the game at 76-76, with 1:34 to go. Thiemann put ALBA ahead with a layup, but Van Rossom buried a three-pointer with 27.4 seconds on the clock. Siva only split free throws for the hosts, and San Emeterio nailed both to make it 79-82. But ALBA kept believing, and after split foul shots from San Emeterio, Siva scored an uncontested layup with 2.2 seconds left to make it 83-83, forcing overtime. In the extra session, Giedraitis and Sikma each hit triples to open a 89-83 lead. Van Rossom answered with a downtown shot of his own, and had another one after an offensive rebound from Will Thomas to cut within 93-92 with 54 seconds remaining. Valencia had a chance to take the lead, but Matt Thomas missed a corner three and Sikma gave ALBA a 3-point cushion with a pair of free throws. The hosts prevailed by making one more defensive stand as Matt Thomas’ last-second step-back triple hit the front rim.
With 187 total points, this was the highest scoring EuroCup Finals game ever. No team in EuroCup Finals has scored more than ALBA’s 95 points, which surpassed the previous high of 92, by UNICS Kazan in 2011, and Valencia in 2010. Valencia matched those 92 points in this contest.
Rokas Giedratis opened overtime by missing a three-pointer, but that did not stop him from trying another on the ensuing possession. He made that one, and Luke Sikma followed by making a wide-open three of his own, giving ALBA an 89-83 lead to start overtime, which they did not relinquish.
ALBA had 20 assists and 8 turnovers, while Valencia had 16 assists but was forced into 18 turnovers.
Hitting it from long range
Valencia hit 14 triples, one shy of its season high, and the second most in a EuroCup Finals game in the history of the competition. However, it was not enough to win Game 2.
Valencia will host the deciding Game 3 on Monday. This is the second time in three seasons since this format has been adopted that the EuroCup champion will be crowned in a series decider. The first time it happened, in 2017, Valencia lost Game 3 on its home floor against Unicaja Malaga.
Friday, April 12, 2019