Valencia Basket suffered a tough injury blow recently with the loss of the team’s second-highest scorer Jordan Loyd, who averages 11.1 points per game, for at least five weeks due to a broken foot.
And in the early stages of Friday night’s key meeting with fellow playoffs hopefuls Panathinaikos OPAP Athens at La Fonteta, the Spanish side was once again struck by the injury curse when another important player in the backcourt, Sam Van Rossom, limped out of the action after playing for less than two minutes.
Taking on the most potent offense in the competition without its starting point guard (Van Rossom) and most prolific backcourt scorer (Loyd) was not an easy task for Valencia, but Jaume Ponsarnau’s men produced a magnificent collective response to secure a 94-87 victory which keeps their place in the top eight secure at least until next week’s double-header.
Although the headlines were grabbed by Bojan Dubljevic with an MVP of the Round performance of 19 points on 8-of-9 two-point shooting, perhaps the most important aspect of Valencia’s victory was its outstanding accuracy from deep. The home side netted 14-of-29 three-point attempts (48.3%) on the way to 94 points, a tally made even more impressive for the fact that it was held scoreless for nearly five minutes during Panathinaikos’s resurgence in the final quarter.
Aaron Doornekamp led the way by making 4 of his 5 three-point shots, including a key strike with three minutes remaining to swing the late momentum in Valencia’s favour after Panathinaikos had battled back to tie the game. Quino Colom (3-of-4), Fernando San Emeterio (2-of-3), Louis Labeyrie (2-of-3) and Guillem Vives (2-of-5) also made multiple triples for the host.
Valencia has been excellent at home in recent weeks, winning seven of its last eight games at La Fonteta, and the good news for La Taronja is that four of its next six games will take place on its home court – starting with a mouth-watering visit from fellow Spanish side FC Barcelona on Wednesday.
And with shooting like Friday night’s, Valencia could be in the top eight for good.