Gran Canaria survives late rally to stay alive
Herbalife Gran Canaria claimed a valuable and much-needed 74-79 win over MoraBanc Andorra on Wednesday night. The visitors used an 8-28 run bridging the second and the third quarters to build a 41-57 lead, but a strong reaction led by Clevin Hannah and Tomas Gielo brought the hosts within a single basket 72-74, entering the last minute. Gran Canaria found late baskets by Stan Okoye and A.J. Slaughter to retain the lead and earn its first win in the Top 16, which allowed it to avoid elimination. John Shurna paced the winners with a career-high 21 points plus 7 rebounds. Okoye followed him with 18 points in just 21 minutes, while Slaughter tallied 17 and Tomas Dimsa 10. Hannah finished the game with 20 points - 14 of them coming in the fourth quarter, Tomasz Gielo poured in 16 and Oriol Pauli contributed 11 in defeat.
Both teams had slow starts as neither team managed a single point for the first 2 and a half minutes. Shurna showed up to stop the drought and provided all of Gran Canaria’s points in a 0-7 run that put the visitors ahead. Andorra needed almost half of the quarter to get its first bucket and that allowed Gran Canaria to lead 4-9 after 7 minutes. Back-to-back triples by Shurna and Albicy, followed by free throws and a long jumper by Okoye, extended the difference to 9-19 soon after. Gielo and Babatunde Olumuyiwa helped the hosts get within 14-19 at the end of the first quarter. Gielo remained hot and hit his second three, but Aleksander Balcerowski kept the visitors in charge with a couple of inside baskets. A three-pointer by Jeremy Senglin and a three-point play by Tyson Perez got the hosts in front for the first time at 27-26 midway through the second quarter. Hanna extended to 33-31 with 4 points in a row after a technical foul was called on Gran Canaria’s bench. The visitors didn’t panic and reacted with a 2-11 run led by their perimeter players to recover a 35-42 edge at halftime.
Shurna and Dimsa combined for 9 points right after the break to make it a double-digit margin. Okoye dug deeper with a three-point play for a 39-54 lead midway through the third quarter. The hosts were paralyzed on offense, struggling on every possession. Pauli tried to wake his team, but found little help from his teammates as Gran Canaria used offensive rebounding to keep full control. Okoye provided another three-point play and Pauli scored from the line to make it 47-62 entering the fourth. The hosts had not yet waived the white flag as Gielo and Pauli combined to drill 3 three-pointers in a row that brought Andorra within 56-64 with still 7 minutes to go. Shurna came to the rescue for the visitors, but Gielo and Hannah had already found their momentum. Hannah nailed back-to-back triples to make it a one-possession game, 69-72, and start a brand-new game with 3 minutes remaining. Shurna kept scoring from the line, but Hannah was unstoppable from deep and brought Andorra within 72-74 entering the last minute. Dimsa then added a free throw and Hannah missed the game-tying three-pointer to allow the visitors to confirm the win and take the tiebreaker through a hook shot by Okoye and a layup by Slaughter with 3 seconds to go.
What a rally!
Even though Andorra led by as many as 17 points (47-64) early in the fourth quarter, the hosts never gave up. Led by Tomasz Gielo and Clevin Hannah, who scored all but 3 of their team’s points in the quarter (27), Andorra came within a single basket, 72-74, with less than 2 minutes to go. Stan Okoye and A.J. Slaughter shattered Andorra’s hope in the last minute and helped Gran Canaria to take also the tiebreaker.
Did youk now?
This was the first time Herbalife Gran Canaria beat Morabanc Andorra this season. They faced each other twice previously, both times in Gran Canaria. Andorra won the domestic competition game 62-79 on November 21 and the EuroCup game last week 63-66.
In Top 16 Round 5, Morabanc Andorra will travel to Russia to face UNICS Kazan on Wednesday, March 3. Herbalife Gran Canaria will play on the road too; it visits Mornar Bar the previous day.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021