Alba Berlin finished the Eurocup regular season as Group H champ thanks to a new win, this time on the road at KK Buducnost Voli by 57-72 on Tuesday night.
At the end of the first phase, Alba stands at the top with a 5-1 record while Buducnost, who had also qualified for the Last 16 before the game and needed a
19-point at least to finish first, dropped to 3-3 for second place. In the first half, runs for both sides kept the game rather close, but in the third
quarter Alba pulled away for good. Yassin Idbihi led the winners with his 21 points and 7 boards, Marko Simonovic added 14, 12 of them in the first quarter, and Heiko Schaffartzik posted 10. For Buducnost, Aleksa Popovic and Vladimir Tica led the way with 12 points apiece while Cedomir Vitkovac nailed 11.
Having to work fast in order to gain a 19-point advantage, Buducnost started strong with a 4-0 to start, but Alba Berlin reacted fast. Vladimir Tica made it
8-4 for the hosts but things changed completely. A 0-10 run by Alba including 8 points by Marko Simonovic put the guests in command, 8-14. Simonovic soon
scored his 10th point for the 10-16 entering the last minute of the first period. Four more free throws by Alba, including two more by Simonovic for 12
points in the quarter, closed the first period with a 10-20 Alba edge. The second period started with a 0-6 burst for the guests for 10-26 that made
Buducnost's quest even more difficult. Alba was at 8 turnovers at this point, but the hosts' shooting, even from the free throw line, was not good enough to
keep up. That was until Tica hit a layup that was a wake up call for Buducnost. It sparked a 16-2 impressive run capped by Aleksa Popovic's three that made
it 26-28 entering the last two minutes of the quarter. A late reaction by Alba allowed them a 28-34 halftime break after Yassin Idbihi's basket.
After almost two minutes with no points in the second half, Tica hit a free throw to break the ice, and then Alba seemed to pick up quicker than Buducnost.
Four straight points by Derrick Allen allowed the guests to stay ahead at 31-40. Cedomir Vitkovac joined in for the hosts to try to get back on track but
Idbihi was also active now for Alba to maintain a safe distance. A new Idbihi basket plus a Simonovic slam allowed the guests to forge another double-digit
lead and a Heiko Schaffartzik layup closed the third period at 46-59. A low scoring last quarter in which Alba even increased the lead a little bit in the
first five minutes did nothing but seal the outcome of the game in favor of the German team, who wins the group and lands in Group L of the Last 16, while
Buducnost will compete in Group K.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011