Akasvayu Girona made it to the ULEB Cup final!
Akasvayu advanced to the title game by upsetting Dynamo Moscow 78-81 in the second semifinal at Palavela in Turin, Italy on Saturday night. Akasvayu will now fight for the ULEB Cup title in the all-Spanish final against DKV Joventut. Moreover, the ULEB CUp winner will automatically make it to the 2008-09 Euroleague. Meanwhile, Dynamo will face Galatasaray Cafe Crown in the third place game and the winner will automatically return to the ULEB Cup next season. Arriel McDonald became the game hero with 4-for-4 free throws in the final seconds to hold off a wild Dynamo rally. Ivan Radenovic led the winners with 20 points in his first-ever ULEB Cup start. McDonald added 18 while Marc Gasol had 16 for Akasvayu. Henry Domercant had 20 points for Dynamo, Travis Hansen added 14, Antonis Fotsis got 12 while Robertas Javtokas contributed 10 for the 2006 ULEB Cup winners, that got its last lead at 24-23 on a driving layup by Milos Vujanic. Gasol, an outstanding McDonald and second-chance options helped Akasvayu to regain a 35-38 edge at halftime. Gasol simply took over after the break while Radenovic led a game-breaking 3-17 run that Fernando San Emeterio capped with a corner triple to make it a 19-point game, 45-64, late in the third quarter. Dynamo was not done, however, as it managed to get Domercant and Fotsis involved to get back in the game, 73-74, already in the final 2 minutes. Radenovic and McDonald allowed Akasvayu to keep a 78-81 lead with 9.2 seconds to go. Vujanic and Domercant missed from downtown in the game's final possession.
Akasvayu coach Pedro Martinez opted to use Radenovic to go against Antonis Fotsis at the power forward spot. Domercant got Dynamo going with a jumper while Javtokas and Fotsis had consecutive blocks on Gasol. McDonald was first to score for Akasvayu while a layup by Radenovic gave his team a 2-4 lead. Hansen sank a three-pointer from the left wing but Cvetkovic had a big block on Vujanic that allowed McDonald to answer from downtown and soon added a fast break layup for a 5-9 lead. Javtokas dunked it but Gasol answered with a move in the paint. A power layup by Javtokas and a fast break layup by Domercant off another block by Fotsis tied it at 11-11. Cvetkovic nailed a triple from the top of the key but Gasol picked up his second foul and went to the bench after 6 minutes. Fotsis stepped up again with a put-back layup while Radenovic and Hansen traded basket for a 15-16 score. San Emeterio made foul shots while Roman Montañez copied him off a Dynamo timeout. Sergey Bykov buried a three-pointer while Dmitry Domani scored around the basket for a 20-19 Dynamo edge. Radenovic dunked it and San Emeterio added more free throws to restore a 20-23 Akasvayu edge after 10 minutes.
Sergey Monya, now playing power forward instead of Fotsis, scored off a steal right at the start of the second quarter, as the game turned into a physical battle. Akasvayu, just as usual, ran its offense through Gasol with much success now. Both teams went scoreless for more than 3 minutes until Vujanic stepped up with a driving basket. McDonald took over with a step-back triple, good for a 24-26 Akasvayu lead. Hansen answered with a long two-pointer, as Akasvayu dominated the offensive boards. McDonald dived to grab a loose ball that allowed him to nail a three-pointer that sent the entire Akasvayu bench to their feet. Monya made free throws but San Emeterio matched it in another two-chance Akasvayu possession and Radenovic added a layup to keep his team ahead, 29-33. Domercant sank foul shots that Gasol erased with a turnaround jumper. Hansen shined with a layup coming off the baseline, making Akasvayu call timeout at 33-35. Radenovic fired in one from downtown while Petr Samoylenko answered with an uncontested layup to bring Dynamo within 35-38 at the break. Akavasyu grabbed as many as 8 offensive rebounds in the second quarter in which was the biggest key to its halftime lead.
Fotsis sank a triple to tie the game in the opening play of the third quarter but Gasol answered with a reverse layup and McDonald added one from downtown for a five-point Akasvayu lead, 38-43. Gasol kept pacing Girona with a power basket but Fotsis found space for an uncontested dunk. Domercant was off-target and Hansen was sitting on the bench with 4 fouls, so Dynamo needed to try something else in offense. Gasol - who else? - scored around the basket that Domercant matched with a driving layup. Victor Sada scored in penetration while an unstoppable Gasol added a layup-plus-foul for a double-digit Akasvayu margin, 42-49. Dynamo kept struggling to score and switched to 2-3 zone defense that Cvetkovic punished with a bomb from downtown. Radenovic added a free throw that capped a 0-9 Akasvayu run. Monya and Bykov stepped up with free throws, as Gasol picked up his fourth foul. Radenovic shined with a fallaway jumper and soon added a free throw for a 14-point Akasvayu lead, 45-59. Erik Daniels scored around the basket while San Emeterio stroke from downtown to break the game open, 45-64. Fotsis, Javtokas and Bykov made free throws to bring Dynamo within 49-64 after three quarters.
Vujanic scored in penetration right at the start of the fourth quarter while Hansen sank jumper to give Dynamo some hope at 53-64, after a 8-0 run. Radenovic sank another triple from the top of the key but Monya answered from downtown for a 56-67 deficit with under 8 minutes remaining. Daniels sank a close jumper but Javtokas followed a layup with a dunk while Hansen added a free throw to bring his team back to life, 61-69. Daniels took over with a power layup that Gasol followed with a foul shot. Domercant nailed a six-meter jumper and Javtokas made another free throw to get Dynamo within 64-72. Gasol shined with a smooth move in the low post but Domercant answered from downtown to make it a seven-point game, 67-74, with 4 minutes to go. Fotsis buried a seven-meter bomb to get Dynamo even closer, 70-74. Akasvayu committed yet another turnover while Domercant fired in an unbelievable triple for a 73-74 score with 1:25 remaining. Radenovic scored in penetration with 1:07 to go while Hansen travelled in Dynamo's next possession. He collected a steal and drew a Radenovic's fifth foul, making both shots for a 75-76 Dynamo deficit with 45 seconds remaining. Sada was next in the foul line but made just his first attempt, 75-77. He collected a steal, however, while Dynamo fouled on McDonald. He did not miss but Domercant sank yet another incredible triple for a 78-79 score with 10.8 ticks remaining. McDonald immediately returned to the line to sink both but Vujaniv and Domercant missed respective three-point shots in the game's final possession.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Javier Gancedo, Turin, Italy