A week after the Eurocup Finals were ticketed for nearby Vitoria, Spain, the juggernaut that is Bilbao Bizkaia Basket continued on its perfect-to-date season by thrashing Brose Baskets 55-76 on the road in Bamberg, Germany on Tuesday. Bilbao is now 3-0 in Group K, just as it was a perfect 6-0 in the regular season. Bamberg, meanwhile, dropped to 1-2. Although the hosts led by as many as 9 points early, a 6-24 run that started late in the first quarter turned the game in Bilbao's favor for good. Marco Banic again proved unstoppable in the paint, making 7 of 9 two-pointers on the way to 18 points. Chris Warren follwed him with 14 points for the winners, while Javi Salgado scored all of his 12 in a burst just before and after halftime and dished 7 assists. Defense and a 28-38 rebounding advantage did the rest for Bilbao. Bamberg got 22 points and 10 rebounds from Elton Brown, but little else besides 12 points from Casey Jacobsen, most of those in the game's first 2 minutes.
Jacobsen's 8 points to open the game - free throws followed by consecutive three-point shots - gave Bamberg all the confidence it needed. Alex Mumbru started Bilbao's response from downtown before Javi Rodriguez tied at 8-8 on a layup. The hosts merely turned to another veteran, Predrag Suput, for 7 points to start a 9-0 run to a 17-8 lead. The shootout continued till the end of the first quarter, when consecutive triples by Chris Warren let Bilbao cut the difference to 21-16 after 10 minutes. This time, however, Bilbao continued its run with a humongous 2-15 start to the second quarter. The visitors found Banic inside for 8 of those points, while Warren added 4 more and Janis Blums capped the blast with a three-point strike at 23-32. Brian Roberts stopped the bleeding for Bamberg and Tibor Pleiss got the hosts as close as 27-32 before Bilbao guard Salgado buried a triple and free throws for the game's first double-digit lead, 27-37, at halftime.
Scoring stalled at the start of the third quarter until Salgado personally upped the Bilbao advantage to 27-41. He returned a minute later for a big three-pointer, giving him 12 points in less than 6 minutes and his team a 29-46 advantage. Bilbao was content to trade Alex Hervelle's inside baskets for those of Brown for Bamberg. Another slow spell interrupted by a triple and free throw from Jacobsen could only get the hosts within 37-52 at the end of three quarters. Bilbao broke the hosts for good with 8 unanswered points to open the final quarter, with a three-point bomb by Paco Vazquez helping to push the difference above 20 points at 27-60. Bamberg worked hard at trimming the point difference with back-to-back three-point plays by Brown at 47-62. Jerome Moiso matched one of them, however, and Bilbao was going home not only with another win, but with a healthy margin of victory - just in case.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010