DKV Joventut Badalona the win in the Spanish duel, topping Unicaja 66-68
Rudy Fernandez's high-flying, buzzer-beating heroics gave DKV Joventut Badalona the win in the Spanish duel of Group B, topping Unicaja 66-68 on the road in Malaga. The game was tied at 66-66 and seemed heading for overtime when Pepe Sanchez was called for traveling as time was about to expire. Then, with one tenth of a second left, Lubos Barton threw the ball in bounds to Fernandez, who flew in and tipped the ball into the basket as the buzzer sounded, giving Joventut its first win in the Euroleague in 12 years. The win saw Joventut improve to 1-1 , while Unicaja falls to 0-2. Fernandez, who drilled three triples in the last period, finished with a game-high 20 points. Barton added 13, Elmer Bennett 12 and Marcelinho Huertas 11 for Joventut. Berni Rodriguez led Unicaja with 15 points, Jiri Welsch posted 13 and Sanchez added 10.
Both teams struggled to score early until Charles Gaines put Joventut on the board with a jump hook. Daniel Santiago answered wit a power basket in the low post and added free throws to give Unicaja its first lead, 4-3. Aggressive defenses saw both teams commit many fouls and enter the foul bonus before the halfway mark in the period. Welsch stepped up with a layup, but free throws from Fernandez tied the game at 6-6. Rodriguez came through with a second-chance layup before Bennett went one step further with a three-pointer to put Joventut briefly ahead. Welsch answered from downtown, but Bennett nailed a five-meter shot to tie it again, 11-11. Unicaja tried zone defense, which Drew Sullivan beat with a short jumper. Rodriguez made free throws, but Joventut had finally adjusted its defense now with its second unit on the floor. A technical foul on Unicaja coach Sergio Scariolo allowed Huertas to follow free throws with a jumper and give Joventut a 15-19 lead after 10 minutes.
Bennett hit a running jumper to keep Joventut in charge early in the second quarter. Unicaja struggled to score, while Bennett took over with another jumper, good for a 16-23 lead. Welsch scored in transition as the hosts managed to be more aggressive on defense. Meanwhile, Florent Pietrus stepped up with a layup to get Unicaja within 20-23. Paco Vazquez drew a foul and calmly made free throws, which Santiago erased with a jump hook. Carlos Cabezas stole the ball at midcourt and scored in a backdoor situation to tie the game, 25-25. DKV was forced to take off-balanced long shots on nearly every offense until Sullivan fed Lubos Barton for a power layup. Cabezas drew Huertas's fourth foul and hit free throws, but Fernandez answered with back-to-back three-pointers from the left side to keep Joventut ahead, 29-33, at halftime. Joventut looked inside for Betts to start the second half, but Welsch's triple closed the gap to 32-35. Barton stepped up with 7 straight points to push Joventut to a 10-point lead. Sanchez scored his first points with a three, but Joventut's defensive efforts paid off when Santiago was called for traveling later. The defenses continued to improve, forcing mistakes and turnovers until Sanchez scored again in transition to make it 38-44. Unicaja started to run faster, and Joventut struggled to score against the hosts' zone, until Bennett hit a four-meter jumper to get the guests going. A Sanchez layup and a triple by Kostas Vasiliadis made it 45-46 with the crowd pushing hard from the stands. Rodriguez added a triple at the buzzer to end the period with the hosts on top 48-46, capping a 16-4 run.
Unicaja was on fire with Vasiliadis leading the way, but Barton fired in a three to rescue Joventut. The visitors' hit a rut and Unicaja found the way to the basket almost every time. The game started to go back and forth fast as Huertas and Fernandez blasted triples for Joventut and Vasiliadis the same as the scoreboard showed 62-56. Fernandez hit another bomb for the guests to make it even closer, as Joventut's zone was now keeping Unicaja quiet. Huertas finished a fastbreak to make it 62-61 with two minutes to go. Two free throws by Jimenez weren't enough as Fernandez hit his third triple of the period to tie it at 64-64. The offensive rebounds allowed Unicaja to attack multiple times, but the ball wouldn't go in. Dmitri Flis finished a break to make it 64-66 with 50 seconds to go. Barton missed a shot and Welsch found the bottom of the net at the other end as Joventut coach Aito Garcia Reneses called a timeout with 17 seconds left and the game tied at 66-66. When it looked like the game would go into overtime, Sanchez was called for traveling and the ball went to Joventut with one tenth of a second left. Barton threw the ball in bounds and Fernandez flew in to tip the ball into the rim as the buzzer sounded and Joventut celebrated its first Euroleague win in 12 years.
Thursday, November 2, 2006