DKV Joventut is the 2007-08 ULEB Cup champion!
Joventut lifted its first ULEB Cup trophy by downing Akasvayu Girona 54-79 in the all-Spanish title game at Palavela in Turin, Italy on Sunday night. Joventut had downed Pamesa Valencia and Galatasaray Cafe Crown this weekend and along with the ULEB Cup title, the club got a spot in the 2008-09 Euroleague. Despite the loss, Akasvayu has locked a spot in the 2008-09 ULEB Cup by finishing second. Demond Mallet led the winners with 26 points on 3-for-3 two-pointers and 6-for-8 triples. Rudy Fernandez added 13 points and became the Final MVP, while Jerome Moiso had 10, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks - a new ULEB Cup final record - for Joventut. Ivan Radenovic had 26 points for Akasvayu, Arriel McDonald added 11 while Marc Gasol grabbed 10 rebounds. Joventut set ULEB Cup final records for less points allowed - 54 - and biggest winning margin - 25. Aito Garcia Reneses won its fourth different European club title, as he had previously won the Saporta Cup, the Korac Cup and the FIBA EuroCup. He joins Dusan Ivkovic in a select club of European club greats. Akasvayu led 12-2 early in the game but Mallet and Fernandez brought Joventut within 21-16 after 10 minutes. Fernandez stepped up with a go-ahead driving layup, 22-23, while Petar Popovic and Ferran Laviña allowed Joventut to extend its margin to 27-34 at halftime. Joventut kept shining in defense, while an unstoppable Fernandez allowed his team to break the game open, 37-58, after 30 minutes, enough to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer and allow their fans to celebrate yet another European Club title!
DKV Joventut head coach Aito Garcia Reneses shocked everyone by leaving Fernandez, who had shoulder problems, out of the starting five, opting instead for a twin playmaker lineup featuring Ricky Rubio and Mallet. Branko Cvetkovic got Akasvayu going by beating the shot clock with a seven-meter bomb. Mallet hit a floating jumper for Joventut, but a free throw by Gasol and a three-pointer by Radenovic gave Akasvayu a 7-2 lead. Radenovic kept pacing Akasvayu with a layup-plus-free throw, making Joventut call timeout at 10-2. Jagla missed twice from downtown while Radenovic - who else? - banked in a jump hook, good for a double-digit Akasvayu lead, 12-2, after a 9-0 run. Jagla tried to ignite his team's comeback with a power layup on which he was fouled. It turned into a four-point play as Akasvayu guard Victor Sada accidently tipped in a basket for Joventut while trying grab Jagla's extra free throw off the rim. Marc Gasol sank foul shots for Akasvayu, but Lubos Barton changed the game momentum with a huge block on Cvetkovic. Mallet buried a running triple and soon added another one from beyond the arc to bring Joventut back within 14-12 after a 2-10 run. Radenovic scored again while Fernandez and McDonald found points on free throws. Fernandez buried a fallaway jumper while Jerome Moiso denied Gasol with a big block, but Erik Daniels nailed a triple from the left corner to give Akasvayu a 21-16 lead after 10 minutes.
Joventut kept struggling to score early in the second quarter, now with smaller lineup featuring Fernandez and Pau Ribas at both wings. But that's when Joventut's big men stepped up. Moiso had his second block on Gasol then scored around the basket and added an uncontested dunk. Joventut switched back to a 2-3 zone defense, and Akasvayu did not find the way to beat it while a driving layup by Fernandez completed Joventut's comeback with a 21-22 lead after 14 minutes. Akasvayu called timeout and came out attacking Joventut's zone defense. Gasol fed Radenovic for an easy basket but Petar Popovic answered with a left-handed layup in the other end and soon added another basket for a 23-26 Joventut lead. Ferran Laviña threw a baseball pass to Jagla for a fast break layup that McDonald erased with a driving basket. Joventut kept double-teaming Gasol on each Akasvayu possession while a red-hot Popovic scored again. Radenovic found another easy layup that got Akasvayu within 27-30. Mallet made free throws while Laviña collected a steal and flew downcourt to get fouled and sink another pair. Despite having made only 2 of 14 three-pointers until then, Joventut led 27-34 at halftime.
Mallet took over with a fallway jumper right after the break, as Girona finally found the way to the basket with a three-pointer by McDonald. Barton stepped up with a put-back layup, as Joventut was back to man-to-man defense now. Radenovic tried to change things with a free throw, but it only got Akasvayu within 31-38. Fernandez drew a foul that aggravated his shoulder injury, but he made both free throws anyway. He soon buried a three-pointer while Mallet stopped a fast break to hit another one from downtown that broke the game open, 31-46, and capped a 1-10 run midway through the third quarter. Gasol shined with a tip-in just when his team needed him most but he didn't find much help around. Fernando San Emeterio, however, found his first points around the basket but Moiso replied with a put-back dunk. Jagla shined with a basket in the low post and soon added a put-back layup, as Akasvayu kept missing open shots now. Ricky Rubio shined with a fast break layup that made it a 19-point game, 35-54. Radenovic tried to ignit his team's comeback with free throws but Laviña answered with a layup off a doorback pass for a 37-58 Joventut lead after 30 minutes. Joventut had limited Akasvayu to 16 points in the second and third quarters.
Akasvayu needed a quick comeback to get backin the game and the ever-present Radenovic tried to ignit one with a three-pointer from the right wing. Meanwhile, Joventut had already started to play with long possessions to keep its lead alive. McDonald scored in penetration to get Akasvayu within 42-58. Barton nailed a corner triple while Moiso took over again with yet another outstanding block. Gasol made free throws but Mallet erased it with a layup and soon added a bomb from downtown to seal the outcome, 47-66. Moiso kept shining at both ends and even when Akasvayu called timeouit, it was already too little, too late. Ribas got the party started in the stands with a five-meter jumper, as a majority of Joventut fans were already celebrating. Akasvayu kept trying, but Joventut was already the brand new ULEB Cup champion!
Sunday, April 13, 2008