First quarter carries Valencia past Bursaspor
Valencia Basket shrugged off a two-week break in action and cruised to a comfortable 86-68 victory at home over Frutti Extra Bursaspor in a Round 7 make-up game in Group B. Valencia, playing its first game in any competitions since December 23, raced ahead 19-3 in the early going and never allowed Bursaspor to get within nine points the rest of the way. Jasiel Rivero led the way with 24 points, while Xabi Lopez-Arostegui scored 14 and Klemen Prepelic 11. Bojan Dubljevic contributed 12 rebounds and 7 assists as Valencia bounced back from its Round 8 home loss to Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana to improve to 5-3, tied for third place with Virtus Segafredo Bologna. Bursaspor fell to 3-5 despite Allerik Freeman scoring 25 points and Egemen Guven tallying 18.
Valencia led 5-0 following a Josep Puerto triple before Kevarrius Hayes got the guests on the board after more than 2 minutes. Bursaspor's offensive struggles turned into nightmares as the visitors made just 1 of 9 two-point attempts and missed their first 8 three-point tries while Lopez-Arostegui drained a three-pointer and Rivero had 4 points in a 14-1 run to put Valencia ahead 19-3. Metin Turen tipped in a miss to finally get Bursaspor scoring again and the deficit was 23-7 after 10 minutes. Onuralp Bitim and Freeman started the second quarter with triples to cut the gap to 26-13. Valencia was successful at the other end getting points from Louis Labeyrie and Rivero to stay up 36-17. Bursaspor finally got some defensive stops and picked up 7 straight points to trim the margin to 36-24. Mike Tobey responded and Valencia held a 42-27 advantage at the break.
After Jaime Pradilla's free throws opened the second half, Guven started to really heat up, scoring 12 straight points for Bursaspor. But Pradilla countered with 4 more of his own and Lopez-Arostegui added 5 points to maintain a 55-37 Valencia lead. Freeman managed 7 points over the rest of the quarter to keep Bursaspor within 62-48 after 30 minutes. Hayes started the final period with a bucket and Freeman's three-pointer cut the difference to 10 points, 63-53, the closest the visitors had come to Valencia since the early minutes of the game. Rivero countered with 4 points and the Valencia advantage was restored at 69-55. Bursaspor would not give up and a Bitim layup made it a single-digit game, 74-65, with just more than 3 minutes to play. Lopez-Arostegui came up with 2 free throws and a tough layup to end that threat as Valencia's defense held Bursaspor to just 3 more points and the hosts pulled away to the final 18-point difference.
Riveting Rivero returned to form
Jasiel Rivero regained his stellar form from the first five games of the season in which the Valencia center scored at least 11 points. But he came into the game having scored just 7 points combined in his last two EuroCup contests; 1 point in 5 minutes against Umana Reyer Venice in Round 6 and 6 points in 16 minutes versus Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana. The Cuban big man was outstanding against Bursaspor, however, with a career-high 24 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field and 8-for-11 free throws to go with 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 8 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 28, another personal high for the 28-year-old in his first EuroCup season.
Standout third quarter for Guven
While Allerik Freeman needed time to heat up and ended up with 25 points, the other bright spot for Bursaspor was Egemen Guven. The 25-year-old big man scored a career-high 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting and 2-of-2 free throws. That bested his previous top showing of 15 points in Round 6 against Mincidelice JL Bourg en Bresse. Guven, who has scored in double figures in five games this season, nearly matched his career high in the third quarter alone as he scored 12 straight points for the Turkish club in that period.
Telling numbers: Valencia dominated the glass
Bursaspor was chasing the hole it dug itself in the first quarter and one of the biggest reasons the guests could not get back into the game was rebounding. Valencia grabbed 47 boards compared to 28 for Bursaspor. That total included including 15 offensive rebounds which led Valencia to a 17-4 edge in second-chance points. The rebounding helped Valencia compensate for poor shooting from long range, where the hosts connected on just 4 of 23 three-point tries, or 17.4%. Bursaspor missed an opportunity to make up ground there, hitting just 5 of 22 from the arc, or 22.7%.
Thursday, January 6, 2022