Both of Group G's spots in the Last 16 will come down to the last week of the regular season after Gran Canaria 2014blasted would-be qualifier Panellinios 73-51 on Tuesday in Las Palmas, Spain. The victory left both teams with 3-2 records and waiting to see if Nancy would join them in a three-way tie for first place heading into the final week. If the decision comes down to point differences, Gran Canaria did all it could to take Tuesday's game from a close score at halftime to a blowout. Although it could not eclipse Panellinios's 29-point victory in their first game, Gran Canaria nonetheless gave itself a chance to survive into the Last 16. Thanks for that second-half surge went to James Augustine, whose 8 points in a row early in the third quarter gave him a team-high 19 to go with 9 rebounds. Will McDonald followed with 15 points, Jim Moran 13 and Melvin Sanders 11 for Gran Canaria. Panellinios had two big guns, Devin Smith with 18 points and Rod Blakney with 15, but the rest of the visiting team scored a combined total of only 18 points between them.
Although the defenses dominated at the start, Moran and Sitapha Savane gave Gran Canaria a quick 5-2 advantage. Smith kept Panellinios close until Joshua Davis's three-point shot provided the visitors' first lead, 7-9. Smith and Davis combined to extend the lead to 8-13 before Will McDonald scored his first points for Gran Canaria. After a scoreless final minute, however, the first quarter ended at 10-13. The offenses opened up more in the second quarter as a pair of baskets by McDonald around one by Tomas Bellas kept the hosts as close as 16-19. That led to Melvin Sanders blasting a triple to tie it up before McDonald put Gran Canaria ahead again, 20-19, at the foul line. Smith tied with his own free throw, and a triple by Vasilis Xanthopoulos put Panellinios ahead again, 22-23, but otherwise the Gran Canaria defense was good enough to let Moran end the half as he started it, with a shot from the arc that put the hosts in front 29-25 at halftime.
Smith and Rod Blakney tried to take back the lead for Panellinios early in the second half, cutting the difference to 32-30, but Augustine took over with 8 consecutive points for Gran Canaria to open a 40-31 advantage, the biggest of the game by far. Soon, Jaycee Carroll was hitting free throws and Moran burying a new triple for an even bigger difference, 47-34. Smith and Blakney answered quickly with back-to-back three-pointers, cutting the deficit in half, but McDonald and Bellas teamed up to finish the third quarter with Gran Canaria holding a 51-40 advantage. McDonald, Augustine and Savane went to work early in the final quarter on boosting that lead even higher, leaving Sanders the honor of drilling a triple to get it to 20 points, 62-42, with 5 minutes left. Both teams knew that the outcome was decided and the only question was whether Gran Canaria could match or better the 29 points by which Panellinios won their first game. That was not the case, in the end, but Gran Canaria nonetheless denied Panellinios early passage to the Last 16 and forced a final-week showdown for both qualifications from Group G.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010