Valencia roars to 89-75 Game 1 home win
Valencia Basket took the first step towards lifting the 7DAYS EuroCup trophy for the fourth time by downing ALBA Berlin 89-75 at home in Game 1 of the EuroCup Finals on Tuesday. Valencia has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series, which now travels to Berlin for Game 2 on Friday. Will Thomas led the winners with a career-high 22 points. Matt Thomas added 16, Sam Van Rossom 15 and Fernando San Emeterio 11 for the victors. Peyton Siva led ALBA with 17 points while Martin Hermannsson was right behind with 16. An 8-0 run which Aaron Doornekamp capped with a turnaround jumper allowed Valencia to keep a 20-13 lead after 10 minutes. Will Thomas and Matt Thomas made it a a double-digit game, 28-18, early in the second quarter. Neils Giffey and Hermannsson stepped up to tie the game, 35-35, but Mike Tobey and San Emeterio combined for 6 quick points for a 41-38 Valencia edge at halftime. A three-pointer by Siva tied the game again, 49-49, early in the third quarter, but Van Rossom and San Emeterio fueled a 14-0 run that broke the game open, 63-49. Valencia boosted its margin to 71-53 at the end of the third quarter and kept a safe margin until the final buzzer.
Rokas Giedraitis got ALBA going with a corner triple before a dunk by Dennis Clifford gave the guests a 2-5 lead. Will Thomas followed a three-pointer with a fastbreak layup to give Valencia its first lead, 7-5. Clifford downed a jumper and Luke Sikma added a triple but Valencia kept running its offense through an unstoppable Will Thomas, who kept the hosts ahead, 11-10. Bojan Dubljevic and Louis Labeyrie scored down low, and a turnaround jumper by Doornekamp boosted Valencia's lead to 17-10. Siva and Matt Thomas each struck from downtown to fix the score at 20-13 after 10 minutes. Matt Thomas hit twice from beyond the arc for a 26-15 Valencia lead early in the second quarter. Giffey followed a triple with a reverse layup and Hermannsson also struck from downtown to bring ALBA within 28-23. Will Thomas stepped up with a three-point play and even when Sikma swished a floater, Matt Thomas restored a 33-25 Valencia margin. Franz Wagner downed an acrobatic layup before a three-pointer by Siva made Valencia call timeout at 33-30. Johannes Thiemann and Van Rossom traded layups before a three-point play by Hermannsson tied it at 35-35. Tobey and San Emeterio put Valencia back ahead, 41-38, at halftime.
San Emeterio took over with a three-point play after the break but Giedraitis followed a triple with a driving layup and Siva struck twice from downtown to tie it at 49-49. Valencia looked for its most experienced players, as San Emeterio and Van Rossom combined for 9 points in a 14-0 run that Matt Thomas capped with a bomb from beyond the arc that broke the game open, 63-49. Landry Nnoko and Giffey tried to change things for ALBA but Matt Thomas, Dubljevic and Labeyrie kept Valencia way ahead, 71-53, after 30 minutes. Thiemann followed a huge dunk with a layup early in the fourth quarter and Sikma scored down low to make Valencia call timeout, 71-59, with over 7 minutes left. Thiemann scored again but so did Will Thomas for a 73-62 Valencia advantage. Dubljevic sank a jump hook before Hermannsson and Kenneth Ogbe gave ALBA hope a 75-65 with less than 4 minutes to go. A big basket by Will Thomas and a three-point play by Vam Rossom sealed the outcome, 80-65, as ALBA never recovered.
Will Thomas took over early and put Valencia in the right track to win Game 1. He had 14 of his career-high 22 points points in the opening 15 minutes, hitting 9-of-13 two-point shots, 1-of-2 triples and his only free throw attempts. He added 6 rebounds and 3 fouls drawn for a PIR of 25.
A three-point shot by Siva tied the game for the last time, 49-49, soon after halftime. San Emeterio and Will Thomas scored consecutive baskets, igniting a 14-0 run in which Van Rossom and Matt Thomas each struck from downtown to give Valencia a solid lead for good, 63-49, late in the third quarter. Valencia never looked back after that.
Van Rossom climbed to eighth place in the EuroCup's all-time assists list, passing Yotam Halperin. Van Rossom dished 7 assists and now totals 317, one more than Halperin. Stefan Markovic leads the all-time list with 491. Van Rossom now needs 15 assists to go past Marko Popovic, who ranks seventh with 331.
Did you notice?
Valencia won the opening home game of a two-way or best-of-three EuroCup series for the 15th time. In the previous 14 times that Valencia won a Game 1 at home, it took the series 12 times. Only Lietuvos Rytas in the 2005 semifinals (two-way series) and Unicaja in the 2017 finals (best-of-three playoffs) managed to knock off Valencia after an opening road loss.
Valencia and ALBA meet again on Friday, April 12 at 20:00 CET for Game 2 of the finals at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany. Valencia will have a chance to win its fourth EuroCup title and ALBA is in a do-or-die situation.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019