Joventut rallies past Andorra
In a big showdown that came down to the final seconds, Joventut Badalona opened Top 16 Group H with a huge come-from-behind character win by edging MoraBanc Andorra 90-87 at Palau Olimpic on Wednesday. Nikos Zisis led the winners with 19 points, Alen Omic and Luke Harangody each added 16, Conor Morgan had 12 while Neno Dimitrijevic got 11 for Joventut. Omic added 11 rebounds for a double-double. David Walker led Andorra with a career-best 26 points, Clevin Hannah and Bandja Sy each added 10 points for the visitors. Hannah also dished 10 assists. Andorra dominated early to lead 16-32 after 10 minutes and 36-48 at halftime. It was 47-60 late in the third quarter but, Morgan and Omic brought Joventut within 58-64 after 30 minutes. Zisis and Harangody closed the gap before a three-point play by Morgan put Joventut ahead for the first time, 87-84. Andorra had a final chance to send the game to overtime, but Nacho Llovet missed from downtown at the buzzer.
Sy and Frantz Massenat got Andorra going and then Hannah struck from downtown for a 2-9 lead. Zisis stepped up for Joventut, but Sy buried a three-pointer for a 6-12 Andorra lead. Harangody and Perrin Buford each scored in the paint but Andorra, led by floor general Hannah, kept finding good shots; Musli hit a jumper and Dejan Todorovic did better with consecutive triples for a 12-20 lead. Klemen Prepelic and Llovet exchanged layups before Dimitrijevic hit a floater to bring Joventut within 16-22. Jeremy Senglin and David Jelinek each struck from downtown in a 0-10 run highlighted by Tyson Perez's dunk to boost the visitors' lead to 16-32 after 10 minutes. Dimitrijevic downed a triple early in the second quarter and Kerem Kanter added a layup. Dimitrijevic kept pacing Joventut with a floater and a triple, but Musli sank a jump hook and Jelinek added a layup to keep Andorra far ahead, 26-38. Walker bettered Xabi Lopez-Arostegui's layup with a bomb from downtown, but Zisis and Omic brought the hosts a bit closer, 33-42. Sy took over with consecutive layups before being disqualified with a double technical foul. Hannah established a 36-48 Andorra margin at halftime.
Omic scored down low soon after the break and Morgan found his first points. Todorovic and Senglin each struck from downtown for a 40-54 Andorra lead. Omic and Zisis each scored around the basket in a 7-0 run highlighted by Morgan's dunk, but Musli and Hannah quickly answered for a 47-58 Andorra lead. Walker took over with a couple of fastbreak baskets, but Omic answered with a layup-plus-foul and Morgan hit a three-pointer to bring Joventut within 53-62. Walker and Morgan exchanged dunks, then Buford made it 58-64 after 30 minutes. Walker downed back-to-back three-pointers early in the fourth quarter to give Andorra a 60-72 margin. Harangody struck twice from downtown, but Hannah hit a triple and fed Llovet for a layup. Zisis hit a jumper from the elbow and found a red-hot Harangody for a layup that gave Joventut hope at 70-77. Zisis struck from beyond the arc to make it a three-point game with over 4 minutes left. Perez and Walker each scored around the basket to give Andorra fresh air at 74-81. It didn't last long, as Omic and Zisis fueled an 8-1 run that Harangody capped with a put-back layup to tie the game at 82-82 in the next-to-last minute. Jelinek and Prepelic traded free throws, Walker missed a close shot and Morgan gave Joventut its first lead of the night, 87-84. After Llovet missed foul shots, Prepelic split attempts, however, a three-point play by Walker kept Andorra alive at 88-87, with 8.6 seconds left. Harangody hit free throws for the hosts and Llovet missed from downtown at the buzzer.
In a horrible shooting night for Klemen Prepelic (1-of-14 field goals), Nikos Zisis stepped up and played one of his best games of the season, finishing it with 19 points on 5-of-8 two-point shooting, 1-of-3 three-pointers and 6-of-6 free throws. He added 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 fouls drawn for a PIR of 18.
Andorra led 74-81 but Alen Omic, Nikos Zisis and Luke Harangody joined forces to tie the game at 82-82. Devid Jelinek put Andorra ahead, but Prepelic tied it again from the foul line and Morgan added a three-point play that not only gave Joventut its first lead, 87-84, but put the hosts ahead for good.
Joventut outrebounded Andorra 35-31, pulling down 11 offensive rebounds - 5 more than its opponent. Joventut also committed just 9 turnovers and forced Andorra into 11. Those seven extra possessions may very well have made the difference in a game that came down to the final shot.
Did you notice?
Walker's 26 points are the second-best scoring mark for an Andorra player in the EuroCup ever. The club record belongs to Reggie Upshaw, who scored 29 points against Germani Brescia Leonessa on October 10, 2018. Also, Andorra broke a club record for most points scored in a first quarter, 32, but it was not enough to win the game.
Both teams return to EuroCup action next week. Joventut visits Unicaja Malaga on Tuesday, January 14. Even though these teams face each other regularly in Spain, it will be their first matchup in European competitions since 2006. The next day, Andorra hosts Tofas Bursa.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020