Baskonia holds off ALBA in Berlin
Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz used a huge first half to build a large lead before holding off ALBA Berlin 76-80 in the German capital on Thursday night. Baskonia improved to 2-2 on the season, while ALBA dropped to 1-3. Baskonia took control early with its ball-movement and three-point shooting, then started to blow the game open in the second quarter. The visitors scored 52 first-half points and led by as many as 27 points in the third before ALBA slowly melted the deficit. Baskonia held on at the end as Simone Fontecchio scored 17 points, while Jayson Granger had 15 points and 6 assists. Matthew Costello finished with 10 points in the victory. Luke Sikma shined for ALBA with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, while Oscar da Silva finished with 15 points plus 6 rebounds in defeat.
Baskonia took control quickly with Fontecchio scoring a put-back layup and sinking a transition triple. Yovel Zoosman hit a three on the other end, and Sikma's triple cut it to 10-11, but a triple apiece from Fontecchio and Vanja Marinkovic and a pair of baskets from Rokas Giedraitis made it 15-21 after 10 minutes.
Steven Enoch scored from close range and Marinkovic from long range to open a double-digit lead. The same combination of baskets from the same two players opened a 17-31 cushion. Zoosman had another triple for the hosts, but Landry Nnoko scored 5 points, including a three-point play, during a 4-12 run which Fontecchio capped with a transition triple to make it 24-43. Sikma briefly stopped the bleeding before Granger had a triple and a pair of assists which helped make it 29-52 at the half.
Baskets from Granger and Giedraitis made it 29-56 in the opening minute of the third quarter but Jonas Mattiseck and Zoosman had back-to-back triples, Sikma added a jumper and Malte Delow a triple of his own to get within 42-58. Tamir Blatt gave ALBA's offense an additional spark with his assists to Schneider and da Silva to make it 47-62 going into the final 10 minutes.
Blatt's triple opened the fourth quarter to get ALBA within 50-62, but Granger's three and Fontecchio's fastbreak dunk restored a 17-point lead. Blatt kept shining with a no-look assist to Sikma and another three-pointer. A fastbreak layup from Maodo Lo cut it to 59-70 midway through the fourth. After Fontecchio and Sedekerskis scored close-range baskets halted ALBA's charge, Sikma had another triple and da Silva a pair of layups to help make it 68-74 entering the final 90 seconds. da Silva cut the margin to 4 points with 38 seconds left, but the hosts could not come closer than that.
Baskonia's former Berliners sink ALBA
Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz features four players who played for ALBA Berlin in the recent past, and four of them were the main protagonists at Mercedes-Benz Arena on Thursday night. Simone Fontecchio and Jayson Granger, who both played spent last season with ALBA, were Baskonia's top two scorers. Fontecchio got Baskonia going 2 triples and 8 early first-quarter points, and finished with 17 points, while Granger netted 12 of his 15 points in the second half and also dished 6 assists for the night.
In addition to those two, Landry Nnoko and Rokas Giedraitis, who both spent two seasons with ALBA between 2018 and 2020, combined for 17 points and 10 rebounds. This foursome accounted for 49 of the 80 points Baskonia scored in Berlin and added 14 rebounds and 9 assists in carrying Baskonia to victory.
Youngsters spark ALBA comeback attempt
Oscar da Silva continues to take the EuroLeague by storm. The 23-year old ALBA Berlin forward kept putting pressure on Baskonia in the second half, making buckets, pulling down rebounds and even delivering a block in the final minutes. He finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds, and now averages 17.0 point and 5.7 rebounds through his first three EuroLeague appearances.
The man who got ALBA going, however, was another rookie, back-up point guard Tamir Blatt, the son of a famous coach, former EuroLeague champ David. The ALBA playmaker did not enter the game until late in the third quarter, but then in a quick span of time dished 2 sparkling assists to get his teammates and fans in the game, before sinking a pair of triples to help ALBA cut into the deficit. Blatt ended up playing less than 10 minutes, but finished with 6 points and 4 assists which sparked ALBA's comeback bid.
Baskonia's first-half clinic
Baskonia entered this game averaging only 13 assists, which ranked second to last after three rounds. But Baskonia had a clinic in ball movement in the first half during which the visitors had 16 assists from 20 field goals. Not only were 80 percent of Baskonia's field goals assisted, but of the 4 remaining field goals that were not assisted, 3 were put-back layups Baskonia scored in the first quarter.
It all resulted in Baskonia opening a 26-50 lead late in the second quarter and extending it to 29-56 early in the third. And as much as ALBA made a comeback in the final two quarters, the margin Baskonia built with its first-half performance was just too big for the hosts to overcome.
Thursday, October 14, 2021