It was a memorable night for fans in Badalona who watched DKV Joventut put on a show for the ages in a 105-52 blasting of Unicaja. The margin of victory was the third largest in Euroleague history. In the 11th game between these two teams in the last year, Unicaja committed 32 turnovers, which allowed the hosts to run, picking up easy and spectacular baskets, continually building points to a lead that reached 25 points at halftime and progressed from there. The win allowed Joventut to climb to a 5-4 record in Group B for third place, while Unicaja dropped to 3-6. Charles Gaines led the winners with 18 points, Robert Archibald added 17, Rudy Fernandez posted 14 and Marcelinho Huertas 12. The teenage Ricky Rubio had a huge game with 6 points, 6 assists and 7 steals. For Unicaja, only Berni Rodriguez scored in double digits with 15 points on 3-of-6 from downtown. Jiri Welsch added 9. The biggest-winning margin ever in Euroleague history belongs to Montepaschi Siena, which beat Buducnost 112-49 in February 2003. CSKA crushed Krka 89-35 in November 2003.
Archibald opened the game with a three-point play, but Rodriguez replied with a three for Unicaja. Joventut scored inside and outside with Rudy capping a mini-run with a three to make it 10-5. On defense, Archibald blocked Welsch's drive as Unicaja struggled to score. Rodriguez put an end to that with a three-point play of his own to keep the tempo up. With both teams controlling the ball and almost no turnovers, it was time for the defenses to play harder. Gaines finished an alley-oop play feed from Rudy, and then Rubio fed Roberto Dueñas on the following attack to make it 14-10 for the hosts. The Joventut defense stepped up, and after Daniel Santiago missed a layup, Linho Huertas blasted a three for a 17-10 advantage. Unicaja looked confused on offense now, and the hosts even forced an 8-second violation. Paco Vazquez then poured salt on the wounds with back-to-back triples making it a 15-0 run for a 25-10 score. Carlos Cabezas finally scored from the line to end the Unicaja drought as Joventut coach Aito Garcia Reneses followed his substitution pattern and played 10 players in the first quarter.
Archibald found a good position inside to inaugurate the second quarter, and Ignacio De Miguel replied in the same manner. Unicaja seemed to show more patience on offense now, but Joventut somehow managed to find a fast and fancy way to keep scoring. Gaines made a layup and Rudy added a three to make it 11-4 in the second quarter for a 21-point Joventut lead. Another alley-oop from Rudy to Gaines ignited the fans and Santiago finally slammed the ball to get Unicaja on the board 40-19. The teams traded free throws, but Vazquez blasted his third three to maintain Joventut's big advantage. The turnovers column for Unicaja was up to 10, reflecting what was happening on the scoreboard. The guests had scored 11 of their 26 points from the free-throw line when the scoreboard showed 45-26. Archibald however, soon converted a three-point play, drawing a Santiago foul and Rubio blasted a three – Joventut's seventh – for a 51-26 lead. After a free throw by Carlos Jimenez however, Archibald slammed again to close the first half with a 53-28 Joventut edge.
Elmer Bennett found the way to the basket to open the second half, but 5 straight points by Berni, including a triple, made it 55-33. Welsch scored another outside shot, but Lubos Barton did the same as Joventut's defense found its rhythm again and collected one more steal. However, Unicaja stayed put as Welsch had a monster block over Ferran Laviña and soon Santiago slammed one for a 58-37 lead. However a huge injection of morale for the hosts arrived when Rubio blocked Cabezas's shot and then Rudy finished off on the other end with a huge dunk to make it 66-40. The hosts' defense forced a shot-clock violation, Rubio fed Barton for a dunk and then Rubio stole the ball and found Huertas for a three to make it 71-40. Archibald's free throws made it 75-42 as Unicaja was totally out of the game with 23 turnovers. However Welsch had time for a three to close the third quarter with a 77-45 Joventut edge.
Joventut started the last period slower thanks to its big cushion as Andrew Sullivan made it 81-47. Youngster Alfonso Sanchez made his Euroleague debut for Unicaja – a sign that coach Sergio Scariolo knew his team could not win the game. A few missed shots on both sides were followed by Gaines points from the charity line. Then he added a layup to make it 85-48. Kostas Vasiliadis had free throws for Unicaja, but Rubio owned the game now with steals, assists and points for a 90-51 Joventut lead. The difference surpassed the 40 points when Huertas hit free throws with two minutes to go, leaving things clear: the win was staying in Badalona.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006