Tofas overpowers Joventut
Tofas Bursa cruised to a 91-76 victory over Joventut Badalona on Tuesday at Tofas Spor Salonu to take a big step towards the quarterfinals. The result lifted Tofas to 3-1 in Group H and dropped Joventut to 2-2. Moreover, after losing to Joventut last week in Badalona by 4 points, Tofas took the head-to-head tiebreak advantage thanks to its convincing victory. Devin Williams dominated for the winners with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting plus 9 rebounds. Rion Brown debuted with 20 points, too, for Tofas, while Muhsin Yasar matched his career-high with 14 points and Baris Ermis set a career-high with 13 assists. Nenad Dimitrijevic and Luke Harangody scored 15 points apiece to lead Joventut and Conor Morgan added 12 in defeat.
Tofas took control early as it jumped out to a 6-1 start. Joventut was called for 3 offensive fouls in the first 5 minutes – including 2 from leading scorer Klemen Prepelic. Yasar and Sammy Mejia extended the hosts' lead to 12-5 as the turnovers mounted for the visitors. Dimitrijevic provided a spark off the bench for Joventut. His assist to Perrin Buford for a triple brought Joventut within 17-15 after 10 minutes. Brown made a triple, a fastbreak dunk and a layup as Tofas started the second quarter on fire and stretched its lead to double-figures. Williams scored four times in a 10-0 run that made it 36-20. Brown netted his third triple to the delight of the fans as the lead reached 18. Alen Omic did his best to keep Joventut in the game, but Tofas remained in control, 46-28, at the break.
Williams took the lead to 20 at the start of the second half before the teams started to trade shots. The margin reached 23 before Joventut pushed back with a pair of layups via steals and a Harangody three-pointer that made it 61-45. Albert Ventura also struck from downtown for the visitors, but he was matched by D.J. White to make it 68-50 through three quarters. Morgan scored his first points to get Joventut on the scoreboard first in the fourth quarter, however, Matt Lojeski heated up to push the Tofas lead back into the 20s. Joventut had one more run in it and scored 6 quick points to get within 77-63. That was as close as Tofas would allow. Lojeski sank a three-pointer and Williams took his personal tally to 20 as the hosts put the game on ice with time to spare.
Tofas takes tiebreak, too
Tofas's big win was doubly important as it gave the team the head-to-head tiebreak advantage over Joventut in the standings. Joventut won their game the week before by 4. Should the teams wind up with the same record after their remaining games, Tofas will finish higher than Joventut in the standings.
Mejia climbs scoring charts
Sammy Mejia scored 8 points to move into fourth place on the all-time EuroCup scoring charts with 1,191 career points. He started the game tied with E.J. Rowland (1,183 points) for sixth place and also moved past Mire Chatman (1,187) and Marko Popovic (1,188) during the game. With his next basket, Mejia will surpass Alex Mumbru (1,192) for third place and second place, held by Rafa Martinez with 1,240 points, is possible this season, too.
Road team blues
The loss not only put Joventut in a tough spot in the standings, but it also kept the team winless on the road this season. Joventut is undefeated at home, but when it has traveled its record is 0-7.
Joventut faces a critical situation when it returns to EuroCup action on Tuesday, February 4 on the road at MoraBanc Andorra knowing another loss could end its quarterfinals hopes. Tofas visits Unicaja Malaga the next night with a possibility of advancing to the next stage.
Tuesday, January 28, 2020