Dimitrijevic leads Joventut past UNICS
In a thriller that went down to the wire, Joventut Badalona took a decisive step towards winning Group A by edging UNICS Kazan 84-77 at home on Tuesday. Joventut improved to 7-2 in Group A while UNICS finished the regular season with a 6-4 record. Both teams had already qualified to the Top 16 before Round 10. Neno Dimitrijevic led the winners with 23 points. Xabi Lopez-Arostegui added 17 and 9 rebounds while Ferran Bassas scored 12 for Joventut. John Holland led UNICS with 20 points. Isaiah Canaan added 16, Jordan Morgan 12 and Okaro White 11. It all came down to the final 2 minutes, in which Nate Wolters brought UNICS within 79-77. Dimitrijevic downed a jumper and added free throws to make sure Joventut recorded an important win.
Jordan Morgan got UNICS going with a jumper and a two-handed dunk. Conor Morgan answered for Joventut with a layup and Bassas added a three-pointer but Canaan and Jordan Morgan kept the guests in charge, 5-9. Ante Tomic took over with a three-point play but John Brown and Wolters each scored around the basket. Bassas insisted from downtown, getting help from Dimitrijevic and Lopez-Arostegui to give Joventut its first lead, 19-18, at the end of the first quarter. Dimitrijevic hit back-to-back jumpers and added a three-pointer to boost the hosts' lead to 26-20. Canaan and Holland hit triples but an unstoppable Dimitrijevic sank a jumper, fed Simon Birgander for a dunk and added a layup for a 35-26 Joventut lead. Holland kept pacing UNICS, and found help from Jordan Morgan and Wolters to bring UNICS within 42-38. Tomic hit a jump-hook but Holland got the guests even closer, 44-42, at halftime. Wolters downed a floater right after the break before Lopez-Arostegui followed a layup with a triple as Joventut stayed ahead, 49-44. White dunked and struck from downtown but Vladimir Brodziansky and Bassas kept the hosts ahead, 57-49. Lopez-Arostegui bettered Canaan's layup with a three-point play and Birgander added an alley-oop slam that made UNICS call timeout at 62-52. Jordan Theodore nailed a floater, Canaan followed a triple with a power layup, and Brown dunked to keep the guests within 64-61 after 30 minutes. Pau Ribas buried a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter and Albert Ventura added a layup that gave Joventut fresh air at 69-61. Brodziansky dunked off the baseline but Holland and Canaan kept UNICS as close as 73-67. Jordan Morgan hit a jump-hook and Holland added a triple but Tomic and Lopez-Arostegui restored a 79-75 Joventut edge. Wolters downed a floater but Dimitrijevic matched that with a short jumper and made free throws to seal the outcome, 83-77, with 33.4 seconds left.
Dimitrijevic came off the bench and changed the game, allowing Joventut to dominate. He finished with 23 points on 6-of-7 two-point, 1-of-3 three-pointers and 8-of-8 free-throw shooting, adding a rebound, 2 assists, a steal and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 27.
Joventut led most of the way but Wolters drove and hit a floater to keep UNICS as close as 79-77. Joventut needed a go-to guy and Dimitrijevic showed great character, scoring the biggest basket of the game and proving ice cold from the foul line to secure the hosts' win.
Free throw shooting tells a lot about this game. Joventut drew 28 fouls and was really accurate from the free throw line, hitting 28 of 30 attempts (93.3%). On the other hand, UNICS drew 24 fouls but only went to the line 17 times, hitting 13 shots (76.5%). Joventut attacked the basket with more aggressiveness and that made the difference.
Did you know?
Pau Ribas remains undefeated with Joventut in EuroCup action: 22 games, 22 wins. He was present in all 16 games that Joventut won in the 2007-08 season, lifting his first of two EuroCup titles. Ribas has a 6-0 record with Joventut this season. Ribas has a 48-16 record in the competition (75% wins).
UNICS won't return to 7DAYS EuroCup action until the start of the Top 16, scheduled for January 13, 2021. Joventut, however, has to play a postponed game from Round 7, at home against JL Bourg en Bresse on Wednesday, December 30.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020