With two games left to play, Joventut Badalona was able to celebrate a much-deserved qualification to the 7Days EuroCup Top 16 on Tuesday thanks to a convincing 75-89 win in Venice. Even though Umana Reyer surprised Joventut with a zone defense and led 14-5 in the early going, Joventut showed no mercy once it got going at the end of the first quarter in cruising to a 21-point difference (46-67) midway through the third.
The visitors took advantage of Reyer’s multiple absences, especially in the paint, and Ante Tomic was one of those who benefitted the most from it. The Croatian center finished as the team’s top scorer with 15 points, but his stat line reveals more about his team’s victory than what you could see at first glance.
That’s because he needed only 5 field goals to reach those numbers in a very short span; he stayed on court for just 19 minutes, playing the seventh-most minutes in Joventut’s rotation. He also recorded 4 assists and drew 7 fouls for an overall PIR of 26.
What does it tell us? First and foremost, that Joventut didn’t need to overuse him to dominate the game, as Carles Duran used 11 players and all of them managed to contribute. Aside from Tomic, five other players scored in double-figures, which showed how good his team’s offensive balance was. Even youngster Arnau Parrado, who played only 1:44, scored and that seemed to please the Croatian center a lot.
"Without team effort, it's impossible to win a game on the road. I think today all the guys had a chance to play, a chance to feel the game," Tomic explained after the game.
He avoided to singling out any one factor, but referenced the whole package to explain the victory: "I think [the most crucial factor was] a little bit of everything. We didn’t start well the game but during, lets’ say, the second quarter and the third, we managed to make a big difference in the score and the fourth quarter was just walking through… We are very happy for the win and for the qualification for the Top 16."
The balance Joventut displayed in this game, and its solid trajectory in the competition so far, have not gone unnoticed for its opponents. Venice’s head coach Walter De Raffaele praised the way it had played and pointed it out as a candidate to win Group A: "I want to compliment Joventut Badalona and Coach Duran because they really deserved the game, but they also deserve to win this group. I really like their system, how they play, so they really deserve all the best."
And that’s, indeed, the goal that seems to be the new big one in Joventut’s short-term plans, according to Coach Carles Duran: "[This win] is important because the team is now in the Top 16, and it’s also possible to fight for the first position in the group", to which he added: "Now I only want to think of the next game because we'll try to win against Kazan."