Valencia crushes Neptunas, denies it Top 16 berth
Valencia Baskt recorded its biggest ever Euroleague victory and sent visiting Neptunas Klaipeda to its most painful with a 103-65 win. The game proved to be both teams’ final contest in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this season, however a victory would have sent Neptunas into the Top 16. Instead Galatasray Liv Hospital claimed fourth place in Group D. Neptunas finished the regular season in fifth place at 4-6, while Valencia, with a 3-7 record, placed sixth. Both Valencia and Neptunas will continue their European campaigns in the Eurocup Last 32. The hosts dominated from the start with the trio of big men Luke Harangody, Kreso Loncar and Bojan Dubljevic doing much of the damage in a 52-31 first half from which Neptunas never recovered. Harangody led seven Valencia scorers in double figures with 20 points and 8 rebounds, Dubljevic finished with 19 points in 19 minutes and Loncar scored 15. Pablo Aguilar added 13 points, Romain Sato and Nemanja Nedovic scored 11 each and Pau Ribas 10. Deividas Gailius led Neptunas with 15 points and Donatas Zavackas scored 11.
First quarter: Valencia bigs dominate early
Both teams missed on their first two possessions before Simas Galdikas’s tip-in got Neptunas going. Harangody scored Valencia’s first points from the charity stripe. Loncar added free throws, Harangody rejected Mustafa Shakur at the rim and Sato gave the hosts a 6-2 lead. Zavackas hit from downtown for Neptunas, but Nedovic answered in kind. Loncar sandwiched a pair of jumpers around a basket for Shakur. Harangody dropped in a triple to make it 16-7 midway through the quarter as Neptunas called timeout. Mindaugas Girdziunas came off the bench and sent in a triple for the visitors, but Harangody scored twice as the hosts remained in control. Valdas Vasylius drilled a three and Gailius scored on the break as the deficit was cut to 5. After a Valencia timeout, Dubljevic came off the bench and scored immediately. Vasylius finished a three-chance offense with a basket, but the hosts finished the quarter strong with Aguilar dunking twice – the second after a nice dish from Dubljevic – to lead 28-17 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Hosts in total control as lead sails into 20s
Ribas drove for a layup plus foul and Dubljevic added free throws for a 15-point lead as Neptunas continued to struggle with its three-point shooting. Vasylius dished to Arnas Butkevicius for a slam. Butkevicius then completed a four-chance attack with a triple to get within 32-22. Dubljevic countered with a basket-plus-foul. Shakur fed Egidijus Dimsa for a layup and Butkevicus drove baseline for a slam. After a timeout, Dubljevic scored inside. Loncar’s basket-plus-foul and Ribas’s fastbreak layup gave Valencia a 42-26 advantage. After a timeout, Gailius hit from downtown, but Sato matched him. Guillm Vives lobbed a pass to a wide-open Harangody for a score as the lead reached 18. A Ribas triple padded the difference even more. Dimsa missed twice from the line as the hosts took a 52-31 lead at the break.
Third quarter: Valencia pushes difference to 29
Valencia picked up where it left off as Nedovic scored in transition and great ball movement afforded Harangody an open three from the corner for a 26-point lead. A timeout did not change anything as Harangody nailed another three to lead 60-31. Zavackas scored a three for Neptunas’s first points of the second half. Zavackas added a basket-plus-foul, but it wasn’t enough to spark the visitors. Dubljevic scored inside and Harangody again from downtown for a 65-37 lead. Neptunas got some momentum in its favor as Gailius hit from downtown, then found Zavackas for a layup and Keith Benson dunked. But Aguilar sank a three and Dubljevic added another to keep the hosts in control. Benson dunked and Gailius hit a three, but it was only enough to get within 75-49.
Fourth quarter: Fans salute Valencia for impressive performance
Vives drove and dished to Dubljevic for a slam and Ribas fed Aguilar for an alley-oop slam. A Ribas triple took the lead into the 30s. Dubljevic made it 85-50 with his second three. After Vasylius split free throws, Aguilar made 2 and a Nedovic floater set the largest lead of the game, 89-51. A Vasylius triple was Neptunas’s first basket of the quarter after nearly five minutes. Teenager Pablo Perez came on for the final three minutes to make his Euroleague debut. David Guardia sank a floater for his first Euroleague points and a Nedovic triple put the hosts over the 100-point mark as Valencia cruised to an impressive win.
Thursday, December 18, 2014