Power Electronics Valencia has made it to the Eurocup final!
Power Electronics earned the right to fight for its second Eurocup title - its first since 2003 - by downing Panellinios OPAP BC 92-80 in the first semifinal at Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria, Spain on Saturday. Valencia reached its second Eurocup final - its fourth title game or series in European club competitions. Meanwhile, Panellinios will fight to finish third right before the final to have a great end to its best Eurocup season ever. Nando De Colo led 6 Valencia players in double digits with 20 points - all in the first half. Matt Nielsen added 16 and 6 assists, Thomas Kelati had 14 points, Rafa Martinez and Kosta Perovic each got 13 while Marko Marinovic contributed 10 for the winners. Devin Smith led Panellinios with a game-high 29 points on 8-of-9 two-pointers. Rod Blakney added 15 and 7 assists while Kostas Charalampidis had 10 points for Panellinios. Blakney and Smith shined early in the game to give Panellinios a 10-15 edge midway through the first quarter. Martinez stepped up with consecutive three-pointer and De Colo copied him soon after that to make Valencia get a six-point lead, 28-22, after 10 minutes. Thomas Kelati struck twice from downtown in a 8-0 run that boosted Valencia's lead to double digits, 39-27. Panellinios managed to get within 39-32 on a layup by Ian Vougioukas but Valencia improved its defense through an inspired Serhiy Lishchuk. Meanwhile, Marinovic and an unstoppable De Colo allowed Valencia to get a 14-point lead, 53-39, at halftime. Kelati and Nielsen stepped up after the break to make Valencia keep a safe lead, 71-58, after 30 minutes. Panellinios managed to get within 77-71 with 4 minutes left but Nielsen sank back-to-back three-pointers to seal the outcome down the stretch.
De Colo got Valencia going with a corner three-pointer, as Panellinios opted to get its big men in the opening minutes. Vougioukas shined with a big dunk and
Smith scored in transition to give Panellinios its first lead, 3-4. Blakney collected a steal and fed Smith for an easy layup but an uncontested dunk by
Perovic kept Valencia within 5-6. Vougioukas and Perovic traded layups, as Panellinios had started to use long possessions. Chris Owens downed a
five-meter jumper but Nielsen erased it with a jump hook and a foul shot by De Colo tied it at 10-10. Blakney struck from downtown and Smith added a
wild fallaway jumper to give Panellinios some fresh air at 10-15. Power Electronics found a go-to guy in Martinez, that took over with a four-point play
and then bettered Smith's mid-range jumper with his second triple, good for a 17-17 tie. De Colo scored in penetration, as Georgios Kalaitzis came off the
bench to try to stop Martinez. An unstoppable Smith scored again and Owens found space for an open triple but De Colo sank back-to-back shots from downtown
to keep Valencia ahead, 25-22. Free throws by Kelati fixed the score at 28-22 after 10 exciting minutes.
Panellinios tried to play more aggressive with Josh Davis, Vassilis Xanthopoulos and Djuro Ostojic together on court early in the second quarter. Ostojic
scored down low and managed to shut down Perovic in the other end, so Lishchuk quickly came off the bench to replace him. Panellinios entered the foul bonus
really early but a three-pointer by Charalampidis kept Panellinios as close as 31-27. Kelati finished a long Valencia offense with a triple and a
layup by Lishchuk soon boosted his team's lead to 36-27. Kelati grabbed a rebound and raced downcourt for a stop-and-pop triple that forced Panellinios to
call timeout at 39-27, after a 8-0 run. Manolis Papamakarios tried to change things with a driving layup and Smith struck from downtown in a 0-7 run that
Vougioukas capped with an easy basket to make it a five-point game, 39-34. Marinovic rescued Power Electronics with a three-pointer and De Colo added a fast
break layup, as Valencia played with twin point guards now. Smith hit free throws but back-to-back triples by Marinovic and De Colo broke the game open,
50-36. Blakney joined the three-point shootout but De Colo - who else? - buried his fifth triple in as many attempts for a 53-39 Valencia margin at halftime.
Blakney tried to ignite Panellinios' comeback with a three-pointer immediately after the break. Smith soon dunked it in transition to get his team within
53-44. Valencia had been scoreless for more than 2 minutes but Perovic stepped up with a tip-in and Nielsen added an open triple to keep his team out of
trouble, 58-46. Blakney buried another three-pointer from the same exact spot and Smith matched Nielsen's acrobatic layup with a five-meter jumper.
Panellinios kept missing open shots despite having improved their defense, as free throws by Charalampidis only got his team within 61-51. Panellinios,
however, had entered the foul bonus and its opponents made the most out of it. Perovic sank free throws that Ostojic erased with a backdoor layup. Kelati
followed a baseline jumper with a three-pointer to boost Valencia's margin to 68-53 - its biggest lead this far. Panellinios tried to open the floor with
Smith at power forward. Charalampidis sank foul shots but he didn't find much help around. Victor Claver send all Valencia fans to their feet with a wild
triple but Smith got Panellinios within 71-58 after 30 minutes.
Panellinios changed its game plan and tried to speed up its offense early in the fourth quarter. Perovic, however, sank a jump hook, as Valencia tried to run its offense through him to force Panellinios to double-team. Smith followed free throws with a backdoor layup to give Panellinios some hope, 73-62, with over 7 minutes left. Valencia was not in a hurry, however, using Nielsen away from the hoop to extend each of its possessions up to 20 seconds and run the game clock down. Owens sank a mid-range jumper but free throws by Martinez made Valencia restore a double-digit lead at 75-64. Davis shined with a dunk and an acrobatic three-point play by Charalampidis made Valencia call timeout, 75-69, with over 4 minutes left. Martinez shined with an off-balance driving layup that Smith matched with free throws. Nielsen sank a critical triple and then matched Blakney's shot from beyond the arc with another bomb from downtown that boosted his team's margin to 83-74. A fallaway jumper by Martinez sealed the outcome, 85-74, as even when Panellinios kept fighting, all Valencia fans were already celebrating that their team will keep fighting for Eurocup glory!
Saturday, April 17, 2010