The first finalist in the Ciutat de L'Hospitalet tournament is Cajasol after a 90-85 win a great semifinals match against DKV Joventut on Wednesday morning in L'Hosptialet, Spain. Cajasol will face Unicaja Malaga, its neighbor from Southern Spain, in the final on Wednesday night. The winner of that title game will qualify for the Nike International Junior Tournament, to be played during the 2010 Final Four in Paris in May, joining already-qualified Zalgiris Kaunas, which clinched its spot by winning the first qualifying tournament in Rome. Two additional teams will qualify to the NIJT through qualifying tournaments to be held in Belgrade and London next month. On Wednesday morning, a high-scoring final quarter in which the teams combined for 51 points saw Cajasol focused a bit more, which proved enough to win the game. Cajasol had taken the game in its hands during the second quarter, but saw Joventut come back after the break, on the way to a close finish. Pablo Villarejo led the winners with 23 points including 5 hits from the three-point arc. Ricardo Pampano added 19 points, including the decisive 4 free throws in the closing minute. Papa Amadou had 13 points and Gabriel Darin 10 while Manuel Gonzalez just missed a double-double with 9 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds. Albert Ventura led Joventut with 22 points in less than 25 minutes. Alejandro Barrera helped with 21 points while Alejandro Suarez finished with 19 and 7 rebounds. Joventut dominated the boards 45-32, but saw Cajasol produce better shooting accuracy, enough to make the title game.
Ferran Bassas scored 6 points in the first five minutes to lead Joventut to a 4-14 advantage. Cajasol found its answer in Darin, who led an 11-1 run to tie the score, and bring his team to the first quarter siren tied at 17-17. Villarejo led a quick 6-0 run to start the second quarter as Cajasol took the lead, and Pampano finally got on the scoring sheet with a three-pointer and a free throw a minute later. Ventura stepped up for Joventut, drawing fouls and producing points to make it once more a one point game, 35-34. The last word was spoken by Cajasol, however, as the last 5 points of the half, capped by a Pampano triple, let his team march to the break up by 8 points, 45-37.
Pampano and Darin quickly added to Cajasol's advantage in the second half, putting their team up 53-42 after a minute, but Joventut was set for a comeback. Ventura and Suarez carried their team on a 0-8 run, and a great effort on defense limited Cajasol on no points in the last 4 minutes of the third period. Points by Joan Tomas and Suarez completed the comeback and gave Joventut a 56-58 lead before the deciding quarter. The drought continued on Cajasol with Ventura creating points to lead his team to a 56-64 lead, following 12 points in a row by Joventut. But with 9 minutes still left on the game clock, Cajasol had enough time to reply. Gonzalez and Villarejo caught fire to answer with an 11-0 run and leave Joventut behind again, by 67-64. Joventut wasn't about to give up. The lead changed hands and every possession mattered as the teams entered the last minutes tied at 83-83. Vallarejo stepped up with a big three-point shot, and Amadou added a key steal, which was followed by 2 free throws from Pampano. Tomas missed an attempt from the arc for Joventut and Pampano added 2 more free throws to settle the game and give Cajasol a seat in the final.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010