After a nine-year absence, Joventut Badalona rejoined the 7DAYS EuroCup last season. But even while reaching the Top 16 and finishing with a record of 8-8, the former EuroCup champions were unsuccessful every time they had to play on the road.
Joventut went 0-8 in away games in 2019-2020, making for long flights back from Nanterre, Kazan, Brescia, Istanbul, Ljubljana, Malaga, Bursa and Andorra. Looking back, Jovenut's last road win in the EuroCup had taken place more than a decade ago, when Joventut beat Le Mans 62-70 on February 9, 2010.
Until Wednesday, that is, when Joventut defeated JL Bourg en Bresse 77-89, prompting a lot of relief.
"I don't know if it's is very important for the future, but today it is for sure," head coach Carles Duran said. "It's difficult to play in Europe; it was difficult to play here tonight; and you need to play good basketball to win on the road."
JL Bourg was unbeaten both in the Eurocup and in the French League until Joventut arrived. They were averaging more than 90 points per game and shooting with great accuracy, especially from behind the arc. Nonetheless, Joventut ruined Bourg's first Eurocup home game ever by holding the hosts to under 80 points. Experience and strong dominance in the paint made the difference.
"They are a team that is used to playing at this level, they do it almost every season and this year they have two guys with a lot of experience, Pau Ribas and Ante Tomic, and they both make a big difference," Bourg head coach Savo Vucevic said.
Vucevic's assessment was quite accurate. When his team rallied from a 21-point deficit to come within 75-79 with 90 seconds to play, Tomic and Ribas showed up to add key free throws that secured Joventut's long-awaited road victory.
Bourg could have gotten closer, but right after Kadeem Allen missed a three-pointer entering the last minute, with the hosts trailing 75-80, Joventut grabbed 4 consecutive offensive rebounds on the following possession, shutting the door on the hosts. Three of those rebounds came from Tomic, who finished the game with 18 points and 7 boards in just 23 minutes.
Tomic and his Joventut teammates dominated the glass all game long. Vladimir Brodziansky, Simon Birgander, Conor Morgan and Joel Parra helped him a lot, as they combined for 56 points and 27 rebounds. Bourg's entire team totaled 32 boards.
That dominance granted Joventut 16 important second-chance points and, ultimately, the means fly home happy from a EuroCup game for the first time in a decade.