Spain: Valencia, Real return with wins
The Spanish League end-of-season tournament finished its first round of games on Thursday evening in Valencia. The 12 teams with the best records when the competition was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic were divided into two groups of six squads each. All teams in each group are facing ach other once in a round-robin format and the best two squads from each will advance to the semifinals, to be played in a single-game format on Sunday, June 28. The winners will meet for the league championship on Tuesday, June 30. All games will be played behind closed doors at La Fonteta.
Valencia Basket was the first team to get a win in Group B by downing Morabanc Andorra 74-90 on Thursday afternoon. Alberto Abalde led the winners with 17 points. Mike Tobey added 15, Joan Sastre 11 and Sam Van Rossom 10 for Valencia. David Jelinek led Andorra with 11 points. Frank Massenat, Jeremy Senglin and Bandja Sy each had 10. Valencia made the most out of its home-court advantage, as its shooters were ready to deliver. Aaron Doornekamp, Jordan Loyd, Abalde and Fernando San Emeterio each struck from downtown, and Bojan Dubljevic added a layup-plus-foul that made it a double-digit game, 12-22, late in the first quarter. A layup by Nacho Llovet fixed the score at 14-22 after 10 minutes. San Emeterio insisted from beyond the arc early in the second quarter but Senglin, Llovet and Jelinek fueled a 10-0 run that made Valencia call timeout at 24-25. Sy soon nailed a one-legged jumper to put Andorra in charge, 29-27. Tobey and an outstanding Abalde rescued Valencia, and Brock Motum scored around the game to give his team a 41-50 lead at halftime. A 0-10 run highlighted by Tobey’s dunk allowed Valencia to make it a 16-point game, 44-60, soon after the break. Andorra was not done, however, as newcomer Babatunde Olumuyiwa and Frank Massenat rescued their team, and a driving layup by Clevin Hannah made it a one-point game, 69-70, with 7 minutes left. Abalde, Tobey and Sastre combined for 18 points in a 3-20 run that sealed the outcome, 72-90, allowing Valencia to get its first win.
Real Madrid had a good debut in the end-of-season tournament by downing Herbalife Gran Canaria 91-73 behind 19 points each from Jaycee Carroll and Sergio Llull. Anthony Randolph and Nico Laprovittola each had 11 for Real. Matt Costello led Gran Canaria with 26 points and John Shurna added 10. Laprovittola had 8 unanswered points in an 11-0 run which Randolph capped with a bomb from downtown for an 11-2 lead. Madrid downed 8 three-point shots in the first quarter – Randolph, Llull and Carroll each hit 2 apiece to make it a 21-point game, 37-16, after 10 minutes. Costello tried to change things for Gran Canaria early in the second quarter but Carroll, Llull and Rudy Fernandez kept Real way ahead, 49-31. Costello had 19 points in the opening 15 minutes, and eventually got help from Shurna and Oriol Pauli to give their team hope, 58-48, at halftime. Gran Canaria improved its defense after the break, allowing just 6 points in th enext 7 minutes. Meanwhile, Ioannis Bourousis and Beqa Burjanadze brought their team closer, 69-62, at the end of the third quarter. A 9-0 run which Fernandez capped with a triple restored a 78-64 margin midway through the fourth quarter. Gran Canaria ran out of energy and Real did not need much troble to cruise to a important home win.
In the final game of the day, San Pablo Burgos edged Casademont Zaragoza 86-92. Thad McFadden led 6 Burgos players in double digits with 14 points. Robin Benzing and Dylan Ennis each had 15 points for Zaragoza. Bruno Fitipaldo and Dragan Apic allowed Burgos to get a 21-26 lead after 10 minutes. Burgos found new go-to guys in Augusto Lima and Ferran Bassas to extend its margin to 39-46 at halftime. Rodrigo San Miguel and Tryggvi Hlinason rescued Zaragoza after the break and a layup by Nico Brussino tied it at 61-61 late in the third quarter. Burgos managed to regain a 63-69 lead after 30 minutes and extended it to 72-82 on a jumper by McFadden with under 6 minutes left. Zaragoza bounced back with a 12-0 run which Benzing capped with a triple that gave his team the lead, 84-82. Burgos did not panic, as Vitor Benite answered from downtown, Lima added a jumper, Bassas scored in penetration and McFadden sealed the win from the foul line.
Berlin, Oldenburg start quarterfinals with wins
ALBA Berlin rolled to a comfortable 93-68 victory over BG Goettingen in Game 1 of the Quarterfinals in the German League Final Tournament while EWE Baskets Oldenburg prevailed 81-86 in a tough battle over Brose Bamberg. The deciding Game 2 of both series will be played on Saturday June 20 with the results of the two contests being added up and the team with more points advancing.
ALBA all but secured a spot in the Semifinals thanks to its blowout of Goettingen. Peyton Siva collected 15 points and 5 assists to pace Berlin while Tyler Cavanaugh picked up 13 points, Luke Sikma and Niels Giffey both scored 11 and Rokas Giedratis had 10 points for Berlin. Mihaljo Andric tallied 13 points for Goettingen, which turned the ball over 25 times. Siva started the game with a three-pointer and added two more triples – his third starting a 0-10 run as ALBA was leading 9-22. Leon Williams and Alex Ruoff both hit from the outside at the other end but the margin was 17-23 after 10 minutes. ALBA used runs of 0-8 and 0-10 to start pulling away 20-41 and Jonas Mattisseck hit a three-pointer from beyond center court for a 29-52 margin at the break. Berlin ended any doubts in the third quarter with a 0-21 run to move ahead 32-75 and the lead was 41-78 after three quarters. Goettingen did manage a 15-0 run in the fourth quarter but the advantage was still 59-86 and ALBA finished strong.
Oldenburg, for its part, led by as many as 17 points but let Bamberg back into the game to set up more drama for Game 2. Rickey Paulding scored 20 points – 11 more than his tournament average – and Rasid Mahalbasic collected 19 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Oldenburg, which also got 15 points from Nathan Boothe. Bamberg was paced by Elias Harris with 24 points while Jordan Crawford had 15 points and Retin Obasohan scored 10 points. Oldenburg scored the first seven points of the game and led 4-14 before Crawford and Harris brought Bamberg within 15-18, and the score was 15-24 after 10 minutes. Harris tallied six points in an 11-3 Bamberg spurt to trim the deficit to 26-29. But Oldenburg got two scores from Ian Hummer and Paulding and Braydon Hobbs hit from outside for a 33-45 cushion at halftime. Paulding and Boothe both had and-ones and the Oldenburg advantage swelled to 37-54. Bamburg used its three-point shooting to get back into the contest, pulling within 54-61 and it was 54-65 after three quarters. More Bamberg three-balls – two from Kam Taylor and one each from Crawford and Paris Lee – helped Bamberg trim it to 75-76. But Mahalbasic and Boothe answered with three-pointers of their own and Oldenburg brought home the win.