DKV Joventut confirmed its good form by beating Group A winner Gravelines Dunkerque on Tuesday by 95-87 at home in Badalona to take second place in the group before both teams head to the second round. Playing without two of its main big men, Maceo Baston and Zan Tabak, the hosts used three-pointers as the main weapon, hitting 15 of 28 tracers from behind the arc to stay ahead throughout the 40 minutes. Juan Espil led the way for Joventut with 20 points, Antonio Bueno added 19 and 7 boards, while Paco Vazquez and Carles Marco contributed 15 each. Ali Bouziane was the most outsatnding player for Gravelines with 22 points on perfect shooting, 9-for-9 twos and 1-for-1 threes. Danny Strong added 19 points, including 5 of 9 from downtown, and Geoffrey Lear bagged 13. The loss didn't keep Gravelines from ending as champ of Group A with a 7-3 record, while Joventut finishes second by improving to 6-4.
DKV Joventut started the duel with the leader with good news and bad news. The good news were the assured second place in Group A after Ural Great's win against Udine, and bad news were the absences of Zan Tabak and Maceo Baston. Despite these important absences, Joventut started very motivated and thanks to the leadership of Rafa Jofresa and the points and rebounds from Antonio Bueno, who was the starting center, the hosts maintained the balance to take the first quarter by 21-20. In the second quarter, the hosts started better with an early zone defense, but when Danny Strong broke that zone with 4 threes to put his team ahead, coach Manel Comas changed the strategy. With a little more aggressivity and with 9 of 15 threes in the first half, and 20 points from Juan Espil, the teams went to the lockerrooms with the hosts ahead by 9, 52-43.
In the third quarter, mainly thanks to its three-point shooting (15 of 28 at the end of the game), Joventut maintained the lead and even increased it to 75-59 at the end of the third quarter. With the win practically sealed, Comas gave some minutes to youngster Rudy Hernandez, the MVP of the recently played Junior Tourney in L'Hospitalet, Barcelona. He gave signs of being nervous and only managed to score one point from the charity line, but the fans backed up their future star. Gravelines managed to cut the deficit a little in the last plays, but the win was going to stay in Badalona.
Friday, January 17, 2003