The return of former European champion DKV Joventut to continental competition couldn't have been better for the home fans in Badalona as the hosts beat Ural Great of Perm 94-82 on Tuesday in their ULEB Cup opener. Joventut broke open what had been a close game in the first half with an 8-0 run after which the hosts became hard for Ural to catch up with. Antonio Bueno was the best man for the hosts with a big double-double of 28 points and 13 rebounds, while Maceo Baston added 20. For Ural Great, Chris Anstey hit 20 and Valentin Kubrakov contributed 14. Their first game in Group A leaves Joventut with a 1-0 record while Ural starts with 0-1.
The game started with offensive efficiency for both sides as barely a minute into the game, Bueno converted a three-point play for a 7-5 Joventut lead. The offenses would continue to have the upper hand as a layup by Chris Anstey soon tied the game at 14. The game followed the same trend during the first 10 minutes, which ended with the hosts ahead 26-22. In the second period, Joventut managed to forge a somewhat comfortable lead through a tight defense and an excellent performance by Bueno, who by then already had 13 points. Before Joventut could fully escape, though, Ural was back in the game, 42-39, with two minutes to go. A three by Carles Marco put the hosts ahead 47-39 a few plays later. The guests seemed to have lost their way as Bueno sealed a 7-0 run for Joventut to make it 49-39, but on the last play of the half, Gintaras Kadziulis hit a three-pointer. As such, the scoreboard read 49-42 at the break.
The second half started with the teams close to each other in the score, but Joventut was always ahead by 3-4 points. The hosts based their offense on long attacks while Ural improved its defense and hit threes for a 3-9 run for 58-55. 6 of 6 straight free throws by Rafa Jofresa, and then 2 more by Paco Vazquez started the reaction of Joventut. The hosts started to play through explosive fast breaks after good defense, and Baston, twice, and Bueno ended the plays with spectacular dunks that turned on the heat in the arena. On the other side, Ural Great survived thanks to isolated plays and free throws for a 75-61 score at the end of the third. The last period started like the third one had finished, Baston paced for the hosts, while Eddie Shannon did his best to keep the deficit at less than 20 points with 5 consecutive points, 85-69. The black spot of the game arrived with a fight between Baston and Andrei Kapinos, which ended with both players sent to the locker rooms. In the last minutes, head coach Manel Comas gave playing time to the youngsters of the roster, while the guests took advantage of it to cut the deficit to the final 94-82.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002