Long-range bombardment turned the momentum for ALBA

Dec 16, 2020 by Euroleague.net Print
Long-range bombardment turned the momentum for ALBA

Late in the third quarter of Tuesday night's Round 14 encounter at Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, it looked as though ALBA Berlin was heading for a heavy loss. The German team had been desperately struggling to score since halftime, and Zvezda had followed the old maxim of turning defense into offense by racing into a 14-point lead, 55-41.

ALBA, though, had grown in confidence over the last few weeks, and now the visitors refused to panic. Aito Garcia Reneses's men did not drop their heads, kept themselves in the game and then mounted a seriously impressive comeback in the fourth quarter that ultimately led to an overtime victory.

ALBA has been in excellent form offensively in recent weeks, scoring exactly 100 points in Rounds 11 and 12 to overcome Khimki Moscow Region and Valencia Basket, before putting 89 points on the board to demolish Fenerbahce last week.

So when it came to time to do or die, there was no lack of confidence. The key passage of the game arrived midway through the fourth quarter, when the backcourt duo of Maodo Lo and Peyton Siva embarked upon a scoring spree from long range, knocking down no less than 5 three-pointers in the space of just 3 minutes.

This was even more notable for the fact that it had not been a great long-range shooting night for ALBA until that point. The German team made only 1 of its first 10 attempts from beyond the arc, and failed to find any offense after the break, scoring but a single field goal in the first 5 minutes of the third quarter.

That, though, did not deter the backcourt stars from taking on their shots. Siva was the first to strike, swiftly followed by another deep shot from Lo, which forced home coach Sasa Obradovic into calling time out. But that did nothing to disrupt ALBA's rhythm, as Lo immediately stroked another triple before Siva added a new pair within the space of a minute.

The Siva-Lo long-range show provided all of ALBA's 15 points to turn the scoreline from a daunting 64-50 into a far more approachable 69-65, reducing the deficit by 10 and changing the momentum of the game for good.

Other key came later – notably Luka Sikma holding his nerve from the foul line to tie the game with 1.3 seconds remaining – before ALBA took control in overtime with a strong collective start. But without the contribution of those three-pointers from Siva and Lo, which got ALBA back into the game at a time when it could easily have escaped them for good, none of the later plays would have even been possible.

Note, too, that such confidence from the arc is becoming a habit for ALBA, which over the last three games has attempted (90) and made (37) more three-pointers than any other team in the competition. That fearless shooting has powered a three-game winning run that has lifted the German team to the brink of the playoffs places.