Joventut downs Monaco to go top
Joventut Badalona used a solid defensive performance to win 79-72 over visiting AS Monaco on Tuesday and, in doing so, become the lone unbeaten team in Top 16 Group E. The result broke a tie for first place, as Joventut improved to 3-0 with its sixth consecutive victory, extending back to the regular season. Monaco lost its first Top 16 game, dropping into second place at 2-1 after its own four-game winning streak was snapped. The teams exchanged big second-quarter runs, with Monaco's 0-14 surge good for a 38-40 halftime lead. Joventut opened the third quarter strong and used a 14-4 run midway through it to restore a double-digit lead. Monaco never got closer than 6 points the rest of the way. Nenad Dimitrijevic paced Joventut with 22 points while Vladimir Brodziansky added 11. Marcos Knight led Monaco with 17 points, while Rob Gray added 14, Abdoulaye N'Doye 13 and J.J. O'Brien 11.
Baskets were few and far between until Dee Bost had a fastbreak layup and Gray knocked down a three-pointer to put the visitors in front. Ante Tomic had a pair of easy layups for Joventut and set up one each for Joel Parra and Brodziansky, but Monaco kept the lead as O'Brien hit from downtown and Mathias Lessort fought for a put-back to make it 12-16 after 10 minutes. Simon Birgander's three-point play among 5 points to start the second quarter gave the Joventut its first lead before Dimitrijevic's also hit a layup-plus-foul to make it 21-16. Dimitrijevic went on to string together 9 points and Brodziansky converted a four-point play to extend the lead to 30-20 after 14 minutes. Lessort snapped Joventut's 17-4 run with a three-point play that Dimitrijevic answered with a shot-clock-beating triple at 35-23. Monaco would halve the deficit, however, with Gray, Damien Inglis and Knight each taking it inside. Then, a layup from O'Brien and a corner triple from Knight put the guests in front 35-37. Dimitrijevic snapped Monaco's 0-14 run with a three-pointer, but N'Doye's triple at the buzzer gave the visitors a 38-40 halftime lead.
Tomic scored twice inside and Brodziansky hit a corner triple in a 7-0 Joventut run to open the third quarter. O'Brien had a three and a fastbreak layup to tie it at 45-45, but Ferran Bassas and Dimitrijevic sank back-to-back long-range shots before Xabi Lopez-Arostegui added his own to put Joventut up 56-47. Pau Ribas joined the three-point fun before fastbreak baskets by Lessort and Knight cut it the difference to 61-55 going into the fourth quarter. Joventut continued strong, with Ferran Bassas and Conor Morgan fueling an 8-2 run to make it 69-57. Monaco struggled offensively with only N'Doye's inside basket falling for the visitors in a span of more than 5 minutes. Morgan extended Joventut's lead to 74-63 with a corner triple, and after close-range baskets from Gray and Knight, a triple from Bassas made it 77-67 with 2:30 to go, at which point there was no coming back for the visitors.
Joventut entered the game allowing 80.7 points per game and Monaco boasted the competition's top defense with just 71.7 per game allowed. But it was Joventut that held Monaco to 71 points, tied for the fewest Joventut allowed in a game this season.
Three Joventut players scored more than Ante Tomic, and he had 5 turnovers, but Tomic had a crucial role inside with his presence and vision, finishing the game with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
Monaco had just 5 turnovers, tied for a club record in the competition. And even though Joventut turned the ball over 17 times, not even that difference helped the visitors, who were held to just 41.2% two-point and 31.3% three-point accuracy, while Joventut shot 50% or better from all ranges.
This meeting marked the first time that two 2-0 teams met in the Top 16 since the 2016-17 season when Valencia Basket and Unicaja Malaga faced each other. That season both Valencia and Unicaja played in the EuroCup Finals.
Two teams will be squaring off next week, on Tuesday again, but this time Monaco will be hosting Joventut in its Stade Louis II. If Joventut wins, it will clinch a spot in the quarterfinals.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021