| A Eurocup semifinalist from a year ago, Bilbao Basket, got off on the right foot again with a solid 67-80 road win at Spirou Basket in Charleroi, Belgium on Tuesday in the Group E opener for both teams. Bilbao had dashed Spirou's hopes of a Final Eight berth last spring, and did it again Tuesday by breaking open a close game in the second half. A 3-12 run after the break gave the visitors plenty to work with, and their defense did the rest on the way to the good-as-gold road victory. Marko Banic led the winners with 17 points on perfect 8-for-8 two-point shooting. Alex Mumbru followed with 13 points, Salva Guardia with 12 and Javi Salgado with 10 for Bilbao. For Spirou, Jonathan Tabu was the big gun with 22 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Wes Wilkinson followed with 13 points and Dwayne Broyles added 11. Depth was the key in the end as Bilbao enjoyed a 13-34 advantage in bench scoring.
Tabu and Wilkinson got the home crowd in Charlerloi pumped with a pair of three-pointers on Spirou's first offensive possessions. Bilbao was able to match that and take the lead, however, on Markota's second layup at 6-8. The back-and-forth trend was set as Dwayne Broyles drove and Wilkonson hit from deep to put Spirou back on top at 14-10, only to see Mumbru take the lead back for Bilbao, 14-15, on a triple. His next layup tied it before another by Salva Guardia left Bilbao in front 17-19 after 10 minutes. Ties and three-pointers - by Javi Salgado and Paco Vazquez for Bilbao, Nick Jacobson for Spirou - marked the second quarter as Bilbao marched ahead by as much as 24-31. Spirou screwed down its defense then, allowing only free throws as Tabu and Len Matela filled a 9-3 run to get the hosts within 33-34. Bilbao's had little time to respond, but used a late layup by Marko Banic to stay ahead 35-39 at the break.
Bilbao made its move after the break as the scoring column was joined by Jerome Moiso inside and Robert Conley from the arc to boost the difference to 35-44. Tabu gave Spirou a respite from long-range, but Conley continued unstopped until he had given Bilbao the game's first double-digit lead, 38-50. Broyles and Wilkinson responded for the hosts, leading another 9-3 run to get within 47-53. Markota and Mumbru stepped up then for Bilbao, steadying the ship so that the visitors led by 49-59 after 30 minutes. Broyles and Wilkinson chipped away at the lead, but the Bilbao defense reasserted itself now while Guardia drilled a triple and Banic took over inside. His third layup in as many minutes made it a 59-74 scoreboard with 3 minutes left, assuring Bilbao would take home a valuable road win in Group E.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009