Valencia beats Baskonia to stay alive
In a do-or-die battle for both teams to stay in the race for Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs, Valencia Basket kept its chances alive by downing TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 86-81 at La Fonteta on Thursday. Valencia finished the regular season with a 19-15 record and now must get some help from others to qualify for the playoffs. Baskonia finished with an 18-16 record in 10th place. Derrick Williams led the winners with 16 points, Klemen Prepelic added 14, Mike Tobey 13, Nikola Kalinic 12 and Bojan Dubljevic 11 for Valencia. Pierria Henry paced Baskonia with 19 points, Rokas Giedraitis added 17, Achille Polonara 16 and Zoran Dragic had 10 for the guests. Kalinic and Williams helped Valencia to a 25-21 lead after 10 minutes. Behind Henry and Giedraitis, Baskonia led 39-44 at halftime. A wild three-pointer by Prepelic put the hosts ahead, 60-59, at the end of the third quarter. It all came down to the final minutes, in which a three-point play by Tobey and free throws by Williams sealed the outcome.
Giedraitis got Baskonia going with a three-pointer and Luca Vildoza scored off a steal for a 0-5 lead. Polonara and Kalinic each struck from downtown and Williams got Valencia within 7-8. Polonara and Mike Tobey traded dunks and Kalinic's fastbreak layup gave the hosts their first lead, 11-10. Polonara dunked again and Dragic added a driving layup, but Sam Van Rossom and Prepelic boosted Valencia's lead to 18-14. Williams took over with a three-point play and Williams scored again, but Henry kept Baskonia within 25-21 after 10 minutes. Alex Peters found his first points early in the second quarter and Henry scored again. Bojan Dubljevic buried a triple and Prepelic added a layup for a 30-26 Valencia lead. Joan Sastre and a red-hot Henry traded three-pointers. Giedraitis bettered Tobey's put-back slam with a layup-plus-foul. Tobey kept pushing Valencia with a tip-in. After Polonara scored in penetration, Vildoza and Giedraitis each struck from beyond the arc for a 37-40 Baskonia edge. Giedraitis and Henry boosted the margin to 39-44 at halftime.
Tobey dunked again right after the break and Kalinic made it a one-point game. Dragic scored twice around the basket, Henry downed a jumper and Giedraitis hit a corner triple for a 45-53 Baskonia edge. Sastre stepped up with a backdoor layup that Giedraitis bettered with a three-pointer. Williams dunked and got help from Prepelic to give Valencia hope at 54-56. Vanja Marinkovic capped an 8-0 run with a three-pointer, but Polonara and Prepelic - at the third-quarter buzzer - also struck from downtown for a 60-59 score after 30 minutes. Dubljevic and Dragic exchanged baskets early in the fourth quarter and Henry added a three-point play for a 62-64 Baskonia edge. Prepelic scored down low and Dubljevic put Valencia in front with 6 minutes left. Polonara hit a triple and Tadas Sedekerskis added a fastbreak layup to put their team in charge, 68-71. Marinkovic insisted from beyond the arc and soon gave Valencia a 74-72 lead with under 4 minutes to go. Kalinic dunked in traffic and found Tobey for a layup, but Henry and Sedekerskis made it 78-77. Tobey answered with a three-point play and Williams hit free throws for an 83-77 Valencia edge with 55.3 seconds left. Peters scored down low and Sedekerskis hit free throws that brought Baskonia within 83-81 with 10.4 seconds remaining. Williams split free throws and Dubljevic sealed Valencia's win in style with a reverse layup.
Derrick Williams had an outstanding performance and led Valencia to what could become a go-ahead victory. He finished the game with 16 points on 4-of-4 two-point shooting plus 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, a block and 6 fouls drawn for a season-high PIR of 25.
Rebounds and two-point shots made the difference in this game. Valencia outrebounded Baskonia 42-30 and grabbed 13 offensive boards. Baskonia hit 17 of 18 shots inside the arc (44.7%). Valencia did much better, scoring 20 of its 32 two-point shots (62.5%).
Did you know?
To qualify for the playoffs, Valencia needs Zenit St Petersburg to lose at least once of its two remaining games. Zenit hosts Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv on Friday, April 9 and also plays at home against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in a postponed game from Round 6 on Monday, April 12. If Zenit wins twice, it will go to the playoffs.
Baskonia has played its final game of the 2020-21 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Valencia, however, may still reach the playoffs depending on other results. If it does, it will automatically qualify for the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
Thursday, April 8, 2021