Joventut Badalona and MoraBanc Andorra on Wednesday faced each other for the first time in European competitions. The teams had played dozens of times against each other in domestic and even regional competitions - Andorra is invited to play the Catalonian League in pre-season, and three Andorra players, David Jelinek, Nacho Llovet and Clevin Hannah, wore the Joventut jersey in the past.
When Andorra jumped out to its strongest start in a game in its three EuroCup campaigns, Joventut had two options: give up and surrender or fight back. After a halftime tongue-lashing by Coach Carles Duran, it chose the latter.
Andorra played incredible basketball in the first quarter, in which 10 different players scored. The visitors made 7 of 10 three-point shots tried and led 16-32 after 10 minutes. Those 32 points were the most scored by Andorra in a first-quarter ever in the EuroCup.
That outstanding first quarter gave Andorra a lead it held for more than 39 minutes. Andorra always managed to find answers on offense, mainly through David Walker, who had a career-best night. He scored 26 points, the second-best scoring mark for an Andorra player in the EuroCup. The club record belongs to Reggie Upshaw, who scored 29 points against Germani Brescia Leonessa in October 2018.
Andorra led 66-77 with over 6 minutes left, but Joventut has been able to fight back at home all season long and this game was no exception. If Joventut managed to make it a close game, it would have a good opportunity to win. It happened before - Luke Harangody had his first block of the season at the buzzer to lead Joventut to a 79-77 win against Nanterre 92. Before that, a 20-meter bomb by Klemen Prepelic lifted Joventut to an 85-82 home win over Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul.
With Prepelic completely off-target (1-of-14 shooting), Nikos Zisis, Alen Omic and Harangody fueled a 16-5 run that allowed Joventut to tie the game at 82-82 with 1:30 remaining. Once Jelinek and Prepelic traded free throws, the hosts got the ball back and Conor Morgan came out of nowhere to get a critical three-point play, giving Joventut its first lead of the night, 87-84.
Somehow, Andorra found a way to hang on and get the ball back with 6.1 seconds. It got Llovet a good look, but he missed from downtown at the buzzer. That allowed Joventut to celebrate its third home win at the buzzer in six EuroCup games this season and all came in different ways - a miracle shot against Darussafaka, a block against Nanterre and an opponent missing a shot against Andorra.
"We played with great pride and attitude in the second half and overall, we played great, hustled more and obviously scored more shots," Zisis said after the game. "We also scored a lot of points by hustling for rebounds. It is not by luck that this is the sixth game we've won at home, six out of six."
Coach Duran gave credit to his team after the game, because nothing has come easy in the EuroCup for them. "We struggled at home in the EuroCup this season, because we played against great teams. All of our remaining regular-season teams, Brescia, UNICS, Darussafaka and us, won in Top 16 Round 1," Coach Duran pointed out. "Even with that, no one made things harder for us than Andorra this season. That means that we may be inexperienced or not play well, but we fight until the last second."