DKV Joventut danced into the Final Eight with a 69-54 home win over Khimki of Russia on Tuesday to complete a 2-0 sweep of their Last 16 series. On a night when it honored club veterans as part of the season-long 50 Years of European Club Basketball celebration around the continent, Joventut didn't let its 23-point first-game victory at Khimki become even remotely threatened. A 12-2 start to the game made that clear, and when Khimki cut the difference to 4 points early in the second quarter, Joventut promptly held the guests scoreless for 5 minutes and managed double-digit leads the rest of the way. Rudy Fernandez led the winners with 18 points, including 4 three-pointers, as well as 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 23 minutes. Jan-Hendrick Jagla added 16 points, while Lubos Barton had 9 and 5 rebounds. Khimki, whose ULEB Cup season ended, got 13 points each from Clay Tucker and Mike Wilkinson, who also pulled down 9 rebounds. In the Final Eight, Joventut will face the winner between Pamesa Valencia of Spain and Zadar of Croatia after their Last 16 series is decided on Wednesday.
Joventut left nothing to chance while zooming ahead 5-0 and 12-2 after tipoff as Fermandez and Lubos Barton scored 5 points each. Daniel Ewing, Maciej Lampe and Wilkinson started Khimki's comeback, but the visitors still trailed 19-10 on Barton's next basket. The last minute of the first quarter belonged to Khimki, however, as Pat Burke scored inside on an assist by Wilkinson, who then buried a three-pointer to trim Joventut's advantage to 19-15 after 10 minutes. Joventut went back to Fernandez in the second quarter, and he responded with free throws, an assist to Jerome Moiso and a triple to quickly restore a double-digit lead, 30-17, after 14 minutes. Joventut's defense starred, too, holding Khimki to a single basket during 8 minutes until Kelly McCarty, Burke and Ewing got the visitors within 33-23. As if to show a stop sign, however, Jagla buried a triple that finished the first half at 36-23.
Free throws by Eduardo Hernandez-Sonseca early in the second half ballooned Joventut's lead to 40-23 in the game and 40 points total for the series. Tucker stepped up then for Khimki and buried 3 three-pointers in as many minutes to bring the visitors within single digits again, 43-36. Pau Ribas and Ewing exchanged three-pointers later in the third quarter, which finished with the hosts still ahead by 50-41. Joventut's defense went on automatic pilot in the final quarter, limiting Khimki to just 5 points in the first 7 minutes while back-to-back three-point bombs by Fernandez and another by Ribas pushed the difference to near 20 points at 64-46. The outcome of the game was as decided as the series and Joventut fans could finalize their reservations for Turin and the Final Eight.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008