Valencia wins thriller in Belgrade to advance
Valencia Basket outlasted Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 81-82 in a thriller on Wednesday night at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall in the Serbian capital to clinch a berth in the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals. Sam Van Rossom scored the game-winner with 3.4 seconds remaining to lift Valencia to its eighth win in a row in the EuroCup, which saw the club remain atop the Group G standings at 4-0. Bojan Dubljevic came within a basket of matching his career high and finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds to lead the winners. Will Thomas added 11 points and Van Rossom finished with 7 points and 6 assists. Stratos Perperoglou paced Zvezda with 26 points as the Serbian champs slipped to 1-3 with their third straight defeat. Filip Covic added 13 points, Joe Ragland scored 10 and Mouhammad Faye contributed 10 rebounds.
It was a perfect start for the visitors with Dubljevic knocking down three-pointers on Valencia's first two possessions. Zvezda had no answer for the Valencia big man, who had 10 points and an assist in the opening 4 and a half minutes to put his team ahead 6-12. Perperoglou came off the bench and knocked down a pair of threes to get Zvezda rolling and Covic added a third to bring the hosts within 17-21 after 10 minutes. Zvezda took its first lead on a Billy Baron triple, 23-21. Valencia regained the lead on a Matt Thomas triple, but it would be short-lived. Zvezda scored the next 7 points for a 30-24 cushion after Michael Ojo scored in the low post. Valencia stayed close and Dubljevic finished the first half the way he started it – with a three-pointer – to bring the visitors within 44-42 at the break. Alberto Abalde – with the aid of 2 assists from Matt Thomas – helped Valencia regain the lead early in the third quarter, though Ragland kept Zvezda close. Once Dubljevic got going again, the lead swelled to 48-55, which prompted a Zvezda timeout. The stoppage did little good for the hosts as Dubljevic tied a career-high with 4 three-pointers and gave his team the game's first double-digit lead. Dubljevic's hook shot capped a 0-11 run, which ended when Billy Baron connected from downtown. The hosts battled back to 58-64 at the end of the third quarter and opened the fourth with a Faye triple. Dusan Ristic made his presence felt in the paint with a pair of baskets that tied the score at 71-71. Will Thomas shined with a block on one end and a dunk on the other to put Valencia back in control, but Zvezda refused to quit. Covic's three-point play lifted the hosts to a 79-77 edge and had the arena rocking. Matt Thomas matched him with a basket-plus-foul on the next play and then neither team scored on either of their next two possessions until Ragland darted into the Valencia paint for a go-ahead layup with 15.4 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Valencia turned to Van Rossom, whose scoop shot with 3.4 seconds left bounced in and Zvezda could not get a shot off after that.
Valencia did many things right to earn the victory, including making half of their 22 three-point attempts with seven players contributing at least 1 triple. Valencia also outrebounded Zvezda 32-24 and delivered 24 assists compared to 15 for the hosts. The biggest negative for the winners were their 12 turnovers, compared to just 7 for Zvezda.
Milestones must wait
Bojan Dubljevic had a big game in which he tied his EuroCup career-high with 4 three-pointers and came within a basket of his career-best in scoring, which is 26 points. He also grabbed 8 rebounds, which gives him 604 for his career. Dubljevic needs 5 more to catch Vladimir Veremeenko for the most rebounds in competition history. Antione Diot had a second-quarter steal and layup, which gave him 101 steals for his EuroCup career and moved him into a tie for 11th place all time. His next steal will put Diot in the all-time top 10.
Crvena Zvezda goes on the road on Tuesday to play Limoges CSP needing a win to keep its quarterfinal hopes alive. Valencia will visit Unicaja Malaga with a chance to clinch the top spot in the group.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019