| Alba Berlin opened the Last 16 with a valuable road win by downing Le Mans 63-68 in France in Group I on Tuesday. Alba stole an important road win and is ready for a big showdown against DKV Joventut next week. Meanwhile, Le Mans needs to bounce back right away and faces Aris BSA 2003 on the road next Tuesday. Julius Jenkins paced the winners with 27 points, 19 of them in the second half. He hit 10-of-10 free throws, 6 of them in the final minute to put the victory on ice. Blagota Sekulic added 20 points on 9-of-14 two-pointers and 8 rebounds for Alba. JP Batista had 18 points for Le Mans while Zach Wright added 11 and 9 rebounds for the hosts. A put-back basket by Thierry Rupert allowed Le Mans to get within 16-19 after 10 minutes. Wright and Marc Salyers kept Le Mans closer, 26-29, but Sekulic and Jenkins boosted Alba's margin to 26-33 at halftime. Jenkins struck twice from downtown and Dragan Dojcin also sank a triple for a 12-point Alba lead, 39-51, after 30 minutes. Le Mans managed to get within 56-60 on a three-pointer by Antoine Diot but Jenkins sealed his outstanding game with 6-of-6 free throws right when it mattered.
Alba went down low to newcomer Jurica Golemac and Sekulic to quickly build a 4-9 lead in which they split all the points. Wright shot Le Mans within 7-9 from downtown, but Jenkins matched him and Sekulic scored again to double the scoreboard, 7-14. Wright got help from Rupert, but with the Le Mans defense necessarily focused inside, Jenkins pumped in another triple. Maleye Ndoye answered him, also from long range, but there the first-quarter scoring stopped, with Alba still leading, 14-17. Sekulic scored again early in the second quarter but a put-back basket by Rupert kept Le Mans within 16-19. Dee Spencer found his first points on a bomb from downtown but a three-pointer by Wright and a put-back basket by Sekulic kept Alba out of trouble at 19-25. Guillaume Yango got the crowd involved with a dunk. Cemal Nalga stepped up with a layup and Immanuel McElroy dunked it for a 21-29 Alba lead. Yango scored again and Salyers soon added a layup-and-foul to bring Le Mans within 26-29. Alba called a much-needed timeout to adjust its offense and managed to do so, as a layup by Sekulic and a jumper by Jenkins allowed the guests to get a 26-33 halftime edge.
Batista scored twice around the basket immediately after the break to get Le Mans as close as 30-34. Alba kept running its offense through an unstoppable Sekulic, who scored inside and added a jumper for an eight-point lead, 30-38. Spencer sank a jumper and Batista scored again to keep Le Mans within 35-40. Jenkins stepped up with a three-pointer and soon added free throws to give Alba its first double-digit lead at 35-45. Wright stepped up with a put-back layup that Jenkins - who else? - bettered with a triple. Batista stayed unstoppable but Dojcin joined the three-point shootout for a 39-51 Alba margin after 30 minutes. Rupert scored early in the fourth quarter and Batista added a jumper to give Le Mans some hope at 43-51. Jenkins stepped up with his fifth triple and Derrick Byars added a jumper for a 44-56 Alba lead. Wright scored in transition and Batista sank a jumper, as Alba had started to use long possessions to run the game clock down. Both teams went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Golemac shined with a layup. Salyers downed a three-pointer and Batista added a layup for a 53-58 Le Mans deficit with less than 2 minutes left. Golemac shined with a key basket that Diot improved with a triple. Jenkins sank 6-of-6 free throws in crunch time to make Alba seal the outcome down the stretch.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010