One of Europe's most recognized clubs for nurturing young talent, FIATC Joventut Badalona of Spain, will debut at the Nike International Junior Tournament finals in London after winning the 35th Ciutat de L'Hospitalet title by defeating Real Madrid 77-67 on Sunday. Joventut did not trail after the game's second minute, had double-digit leads in each of the last three quarters, and turned back several Real Madrid rallies. Gerard Gomila came off the bench to lead Joventut with 25 points. Agusti Sans followed him with 15 points plus 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Jose Nogues, who was on the all-tournament team, added 14 points. Madrid got 19 points from Alberto Martin, 15 from Valter Lindstron, another all-tournament team member, and a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds by Waly Niang. Jonathan Kasibabu had 14 rebounds for Madrid. It was the fourth Joventut victory in the L'Hospitalet tournament, after having won in 1984, 1985 and 2003. Joventut joins KK Spars Sarajevo, winner of the recent Torneo Citta di Roma, as the first two teams qualified to the NIJT finals in London from May 9 to 13, running parallel to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four!
A quick 9-2 start behind a triple by David Iriarte and 5 points in a row by Sans let Joventut take control early. Nogues and Xavier Assalit kept their team in front before substitutes Gomila and Alberto Abalde stretched the difference to 21-13 after one quarter. Three-pointers by Gomila and Sans around a dunk from Edgar Gonzalez sent Joventut soaring to its biggest lead yet, 31-19, before Madrid started coming back. Layups by Niang started and ended a 0-8 run that got Madrid within 32-29. Their team's 4:21 of perfect defense was one second too few, however, as Abalde beat the halftime buzzer with a three-pointer to keep Joventut up 35-29.
Gomila scored Joventut's first 6 points after halftime to keep his team up 41-36, but all-tournament selection Lindstrom was heating up for Madrid. His third basket since halftime made it 41-38, but Gomila ha an incredible answer: back-to-back three-pointers and 3 of 4 free throws to restore Joventut's biggest lead at 50-38. Madrid raced to make up the difference, but with Assalit's 5 points in a row and Gomila's layup giving him 17 in the third quarter, Joventut remained in front 59-47 after 30 minutes. Madrid made a charge with a 0-10 run based on 7 points by Martin and a triple from Guillermo Ruiz, but Sans took over with a basket and 2 assists to restore the double-digit difference for Joventut, 68-57. By the time Madrid got it under 10 points, at 74-65 on a three-pointer by Lindstrom, only 1 minute remained and Joventut was well on its way to London for the finals!
Sunday, January 6, 2013