Doellman helps Valencia win big in Game 1
Valencia Basket Club led from start to finish in taking the upper hand in the Eurocup Finals with an 80-67 win over Unics Kazan in Game 1 of the two-leg series on Thursday in Valencia. Behind Justin Doellman’s 28 points, Valencia played a fantastic three quarters and led by as many as 33 points, but a strong finish for Unics with a 2-18 run to end the game cut the margin to 13 points by the final buzzer. The 2014 Eurocup champion will be crowned on Wednesday, May 7 after Game 2 in Kazan, Russia, where Valencia will need a win, or a loss by up to 12 points, to become Eurocup champion for the third time. Valencia, in its fourth Eurocup Finals appearance, took a big lead very early in the first leg of the finals. Doellman scored 12 first-quarter points as the hosts led 27-12 lead after 10 minutes. Three consecutive triples at the start of the second opened a 24-point cushion. After going into halftime up 49-27, Valencia started the second half in the same rhythm en route to building a 70-37 advantage late in the third quarter. But Unics never stopped playing and held Valencia to a single basket over the final five minutes, while chipping away at the big deficit and cutting the margin to 13. Doellman also collected 6 rebounds and 3 steals, while Pau Ribas netted 14 points, and Rising Star Bojan Dubljevic finished with 12 points. Oliver Lafayette contributed with 8 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in victory. Vladimir Veremeenko paced Unics with 17 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. Luke Harangody scored 14, while Chuck Eidson collected 10 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Eurocup MVP Andrew Goudelock finished with 9 points for Unics.
First quarter: dominant Doellman fuels hosts
Unics started the game with Dimitry Sokolov guarding Dubljevic at center. Rafa Martinez struck from downtown to get Valencia going and Doellman dunked off a steal for a 5-0 lead. Nikos Zisis split free throws, but Unics could not get Goudelock involved due to Romain Sato's outstanding defense. Doellman buried consecutive jumpers before the guests called a much-needed timeout at 9-1. Harangody tried to change things with a three-point play, which an unstoppable Doellman erased with a catch-and-shoot triple. Oliver Lafayette scored his first points and fed Dubljevic for a layup that ignited the crowd at 16-4. Lafayette then fed Sato for a backdoor layup and a fast break basket by Doellman made it a 16-point series. Harangody nailed a three-pointer, but Ribas found Dubljevic for an easy basket and a foul shot by Doellman kept Valencia way ahead, 23-7. Eidson took over with a wild slam and Veremeenko added a three-point play, but Serhiy Lishchuk gave Valencia a 27-12 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Valencia keeps rolling
Both teams struggled to score early in the second quarter, as Unics improved its defense, but kept struggling against Valencia's physical defense. Ribas stepped up with a three-pointer from the right wing and Pablo Aguilar did the same from the left before Unics called timeout at 33-12. Lafayette joined the three-point shootout to cap an 11-0 run. Veremeenko hit back with a three-point play, which Doellman erased with a corner triple. Valencia entered the foul penalty and Unics opted to play with more aggressiveness. Sam Van Rossom shined with an off-balance basket, which Goudelock matched with a six-meter jumper for his first points. Eidson struck from downtown and so did Goudelock off a Valencia timeout to get Unics a bit closer, 41-23. Martinez split free throws and Doellman scored again. After Martinez nailed a triple, Vougioukas made free throws. A put-back basket by Doellman boosted Valencia's lead to 49-25. A layup by Nikita Kurbanov fixed the halftime score at 49-27.
Third quarter: Doellman, Valencia catch fire
Dubljevic scored around the basket immediately after the break and Doellman provided a highlight with an acrobatic three-point play that boosted Valencia's lead to 54-27. Unics could not find the way to the basket until Harandogy stepped up with a baseline jumper. After Zisis made free throws, Dubljevic and Vougioukas traded jump hooks. A fade-away jumper by Doellman made it a 25-point game. Vougioukas split foul shots and a fast break layup by Harangody gave Unics hope at 58-36. Doellman made free throws and a dunk by Dubljevic caused Unics to call timeout at 62-36. Unics kept trying to get Goudelock involved, but he was double-teamed every time he touched the ball. He returned to the bench with 4 fouls, as Lafayette and Doellman gave Valencia a 30-point margin. Ribas sank an open triple that Eidson matched at the other end. Veremeenko scored down low. Ribas followed a mid-range jumper with an acrobatic layup. A wild dunk by Kurbanov only brought Unics within 74-44.
Fourth quarter: Fantastic finish from Unics breathes new life into series
Veremeenko fought his way inside to bank a shot from close range, but Ribas nailed a baseline jumper to keep the margin at 30 points. Pavel Sergeev buried a three for Unics. After Ribas ran in a fastbreak for an uncontested layup, Veremeenko slammed with two hands. A pair of free throws apiece from Eidson and Veremeenko cut it to 78-55. Dubljevic answered with a basket from close range, but Veremeenko and Goudelock hit more free throws before Goudelock drove for a layup to get Unics within 80-61 with 80 seconds to go. However, the run from Unics did not stop there. The visitors made several more defensive stands, while Sergeev hit a pair of foul shots and Veremeenko added a put-back, before Harangody made a steal on an inbound pass and raced for a fastbreak dunk to round out the scoring and leave the Eurocup Finals wide open.
Thursday, May 1, 2014