Baskonia rallies past Valencia
In one of the biggest comebacks in the competition so far this season, TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz took the battle between Spanish powerhouses in Round 17 by downing Valencia Basket 71-70 at Buesa Arena on Tuesday. Baskonia grabbed its second consecutive victory and improved to 8-8 in the standings, while Valencia dropped to 10-7. Achille Polonara led the winners with 18 points, Rokas Giedraitis added 14 and Alec Peters and Luca Vildoza each scored 11 for Baskonia. Nikola Kalinic scored 16 points and Fernando San Emeterio added 11 for Valencia, which led 17-30 after 10 minutes and extended it to 23-40 soon after that. Baskonia managed to take the lead, 61-58, early in the fourth quarter and it was a back-and-forth battle from that moment. Martin Hermannsson hit free throws to fix the final score with 29 seconds left. Valencia didn't foul, Pierria Henry took a shot at the end of Baskonia's final possession, and Kalinic missed a 14-meter attempt at the buzzer.
Derrick Williams got Valencia going with a layup and Bojan Dubljevic added a triple, but Giedraitis kept Baskonia close. Williams and Dubljevic fueled an 0-9 run that Klemen Prepelic capped with a three-pointer that boosted Valencia's lead to 5-15. Williams followed an alley-oop slam with a bomb from downtown and Kalinic scored off a steal for a 9-22 Valencia margin. Mike Tobey joined the three-point shootout and Prepelic hit his second one, but Polonara and Peters kept Baskonia within 17-28. Hermannsson beat the first-quarter buzzer with a fallaway jumper and added a triple for a 17-33 Valencia lead. Polonara scored twice down low and added an alley-oop dunk that prompted the guests to stop the game at 23-33. Louis Labeyrie and San Emeterio combined for all the points in a 0-7 run but Vildoza, Polonara and Giedraitis got the hosts within 31-42. Prepelic scored in transition, Vildoza and Van Rossom traded triples, and Tadas Sedekerskis brought Baskonia even closer, 39-47, at halftime.
Vildoza scored in penetration soon after the break, but Kalinic scored three times around the basket and added a triple for a 41-56 Valencia lead. Polonara and Tonye Jekiri stepped up with consecutive layups, igniting a 9-0 run that Peters capped with a bomb from downtown that made it 50-56. Hermannsson rescued Valencia with a layup, but Giedraitis matched it with a floater and Henry added an off-balance triple to make it 55-58 after 30 minutes. Peters and Giedraitis each struck from beyond the arc to complete Baskonia's comeback, 61-58, early in the fourth quarter. Peters insisted from downtown and Vildoza banked in a jumper, but San Emeterio and Prepelic drew Valencia within 66-64. Kalinic scored in the paint, Giedraitis and Van Rossom exchanged baskets and Polonara sank a three-pointer for a 71-68 Baskonia lead with 2 minutes left. Hermannsson hit free throws and Valencia got the ball back in the final seconds but Kalinic missed a midcourt shot at the buzzer.
Achille Polonara was everywhere and contributed at both ends of the floor, coming off the bench to make the difference. He finished the game with 18 points on 7-of-11 two-point shooting plus 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks - matching his personal-best - for a PIR of 26.
Valencia led 50-58 late in the third quarter, but Baskonia used an 11-0 run to steal the game's momentum. Rokas Giedraitis hit a floater, then Pierria Henry - completely off-balance, Alec Peters and Giedraitis each struck from downtown for a 61-58 lead, Baskonia's first since 2-1.
Baskonia outrebounded Valencia 40-34, pulling down 14 offensive rebounds. Valencia only managed to get half as many offensive boards. Five Baskonia players - Achille Polonara, Tonye Jekiri, Pierria Henry, Tadas Sedekerskis and Rokas Giedraitis - pulled down at least 5 rebounds apiece.
Did you know?
Baskonia made 2 of 14 three-point shots before halftime (14.3%) and 6 of 18 (33.3%) after the break. At the same time, Valencia sank 7 of 14 three-pointers in the first half (50.0%), but just 1-of-17 (5.9%) after that.
Both teams return to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action next week - on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Valencia visits FC Barcelona as Pierre Oriola goes against his former team. Baskonia welcomes CSKA Moscow, featuring four former players - Mike James, Darrun Hilliard, Johannes Voigtmann and Toko Shengelia.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020