Baskonia keeps chasing playoffs spot
TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz kept feeding its Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs hopes by downing AX Armani Exchange Milan 86-69 at Buesa Arena on Friday. Baskonia improved to 17-14 after recording its eighth win in the last nine games. Meanwhile, Milan dropped to 19-12 with its second consecutive loss. Pierria Henry led the winners with 19 points. Achille Polonara added 17 and 13 rebounds, Zoran Dragic had 15 points while Rokas Giedraitis got 14 for Baskonia. Kevin Punter led Milan with 13 points. Sergio Rodriguez added 12 while Luigi Datome, Shavon Shields and Jeff Brooks each had 10 for the guests. Rodriguez and Michael Roll helped Milan take a 10-16 lead after 10 minutes. Baskonia found a go-to guy in Dragic, who helped the hosts regain a 33-32 edge at halftime. Henry dominated the game after the break, getting help from Giedraitis and Polonara to boost the hosts' lead to 60-45 after 30 minutes. Baskonia made it a 20-point game, 76-56, and never looked back.
Youssoupha Fall and Polonara got Baskonia going but Rodriguez struck twice from downtown and fed Zach LeDay for an alley-oop slam, good for a 4-8 Milan lead. Brooks banked in a close shot, Roll erased Ilimane Diop's layup with a jumper, and Kyle Hines dunked to boost the guests' lead to 6-14. Dragic scored off a steal and Polonara hit a jumper to bring Baskonia within 10-16 after 10 minutes. Dragic and Henry combined for all points in a 6-0 run that tied it at 16-16. Dragic bettered Rodriguez's jumper with a bomb from beyond the arc to put Baskonia ahead 19-18. Luigi Datome buried a three-pointer but Dragic and Tadas Sedekerskis fueled a 7-0 run highlighted by Polonara's acrobatic basket. Brooks hit a turnaround jumper and added a couple of triples, getting help from Punter to restore a 30-32 Milan lead. Giedraitis stepped up with a three-point play for a 33-32 Baskonia edge at halftime. Henry followed a jumper with a three-pointer to boost the hosts' lead to 39-32 right after the break. Fall capped an 11-0 run with a jump hook before Rodriguez rescued Milan with a jumper. Punter took over with a four-point play but Henry downed consecutive jumpers and fed Dragic for a layup that restored a 47-38 Baskonia margin. Giedraitis scored in the paint but Punter and Datome fueled a 0-7 run to bring Milan closer, 49-45. Polonara, Alec Peters and Giedraitis each struck from beyond the arc in an 11-0 run that broke the game open, 60-45, after 30 minutes. Shields followed a jumper with a layup early in the fourth quarter. Polonara and Kaleb Tarczewski traded layups and Dragic made it a 13-point game, 64-51, with over 6 minutes left. Rodriguez answered with a driving layup, then Giedraitis and Shields traded triples for a 68-56 score. Polonara kept pacing Baskonia with a tip-in and Sedekerskis sealed the outcome with a fast break slam, 72-56, as Milan did not recover in the final 4 minutes.
Achille Polonara was all over the place, especially under the boards, setting new personal-best marks in defensive (10) and total rebounds (13). He also had 17 points, 4 assists, a steal and a block for a PIR of 28, matching his career-high.
Milan led 30-32 shortly before the break but Baskonia took off after that. Rokas Giedraitis stepped up with a three-point play and Pierria Henry had 6 points in an 11-0 run that Youssoupha Fall capped with a jump hook. Baskonia took a 41-32 lead and managed it well since that moment.
Baskonia hit 1-of-15 three-point shots (6.7%) in the first half. It buried 8-of-14 shots from downtown (57.2%) after the break, and that made the difference in the game. Baskonia also outrebounded Milan by 42-30.
Did you know?
Baskonia has won its two games against Milan for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Back then, Baskonia beat Milan 85-95 at Mediolanum Forum and 64-62 at Buesa Arena on a go-ahead layup by Thomas Heurtel with 5 seconds left.
Both teams return to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action week Tuesday, March 30. Baskonia visits Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, one of coach Dusko Ivanovic's former teams while Milan stays on the road against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade as Kevin Punter, who played for Zvezda last season, returns to the Serbian capital.
Friday, March 26, 2021