Valencia Basket took sole possession of first place in Group I with a clutch 71-80 road win against CEZ Nymburk, handing new head coach Velimir Perasovic an impressive start. The Czech champs slipped to 2-1 and second place. The game was anyone’s to win until the fourth quarter, when the Nando De Colo added to his game-leading 32 points with timely baskets that helped give the visitors the margin for victory. Along with his torrid shooting, De Colo registered 5 assists and 5 steals. Victor Claver and Nik Caner-Medley added 14 apiece for the winners. Tre Simmons paced the losers with 20 points and Pavel Pumprla had 17.
After an opening exchange of points, Valencia took off on a 4-11 surge, led by Rodrigo San Miguel, who drained a triple, De Colo and Caner-Medley, to set the score at 9-16. Nymburk’s Pumprla answered with a layup and foul shot, but De Colo and Caner-Medley kept scoring for the visitors, who went up 12-20 to end the first quarter. De Colo stayed in the groove to open the second quarter, scoring three straight two-pointers to extend Valencia’s margin to double digits, 12-26. Simmons and Pumprla each scored two-pointers, but Claver and Rafa Martinez answered, advancing the scoreboard to 16-30. Simmons nailed another short-range jumper with a foul shot that trimmed the lead to 19-30. But Valencia stifled any hint of a rally, as De Colo put in a layup and short-range shot from outside, then Brad Newley dunked, bumping the lead to its biggest yet, 21-36. Nymburk kept fighting, scoring the next 5 points on a two-pointer by AJ Abrams and a triple by Mike Lenzly, while Valencia’s Florent Pietrus knocked in a layup, pushing the score to 26-38. After a flurry of foul shots, De Colo hit a triple with 6 seconds left to give the visitors a 30-45 halftime lead.
Abrams poured in 5 straight points, including a three-pointer, then Eugene Lawrence added a two-point basket and foul shot as Nymburk charged back, cutting the lead to 38-45. Caner-Medley stopped the run with a two-pointer but after Abrams hit once more from short range, De Colo reemerged, nailing a triple that gave the visitors a 41-50 margin. The hosts kept coming on as Peter Benda scored his first basket, then Pumprla dunked and Abrams connected again, reducing the deficit to 47-50. Then the scoring came fast and furious: Claver dunked and subsequently buried a triple, Abrams responded from downtown and then Simmons banged in two consecutive triples, giving the hosts their first lead since the opening minutes, 56-55. It did not last long, however, as Valencia reclaimed the lead on free throws, ending the quarter on top 56-59. After Claver’s free throws opened scoring in the final quarter, Lamayne Wilson and De Colo swapped three-pointers, then free throws by Lawrence and a dunk by Pumprla moved the score to 63-64. Pumprla scored in the paint again, but De Colo and Claver came up with consecutive triples to give Valencia a little daylight, 65-70. After a scoring lull, De Colo hit free throws and Newley dunked, then Simmons and Pumprla each knocked down short-range baskets to set the score at 69-74 with 2 and a half minutes to go. After a dunk by Caner-Medley, the rest of the points came at the foul line, most of them in Valencia’s favor, as the visitors pulled out a tough 71-80 victory on the road.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012