Gescrap Bilbao Basket KOd Caja Laboral 77-72
Gescrap BB made club history on Thursday with a 77-72 victory over rival Caja Laboral at Bilbao Arena to advance to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 for the first time ever. The result created a three-way tie between Gescrap, Bennet Cantu and Caja Laboral with 5-5 records, but after the tiebreaker, Bilbao was left in fourth place and Caja Laboral in fifth, meaning it would miss the Top 16. Marko Banic shined for Gescrap with 18 points, Janis Blums added 11 and Alex Mumbru 10. Milko Bjelica led Caja Laboral with 15 points and 7 rebounds and Pablo Prigioni scored 13, but Mirza Teletovic, who finished the regular season as the Euroleague’s top scorer with 21.7 points per game, was held to a season-low 12 points. Pau Ribas and Brad Oleson also scored 10 in their season finales.
Boosted by an unbelievable atmosphere, Gescrap BB opened fire with a long jumper by Banic for the first points of the game. The visitors needed almost three minutes to respond through Milko Bjelica. He scored a second time before Janis Blums nailed a big corner three to give the lead back to the hosts, 5-4, after four intense minutes. Gescrap was unable to find its momentum in offense and struggled against a well-adjusted Caja Laboral defense. Pau Ribas capped a fastbreak with a nice layup, followed by a couple of free throws by D’or Fischer to maintain a 1-point edge for the hosts midway through the first quarter. Pablo Prigioni and Ribas came to the rescue for Caja Laboral with sback-to-back baskets to set the biggest margin so far, 7-10, right before the first timeout. Caja Laboral found an unexpected gun in Nemanja Bjelica, who nailed consecutive three pointers coming off the bench to maintain a safe 13-16 edge with 3 minutes left in the quarter. Both teams exchanged baskets from then on, as both coaches started using their second units. Vladimir Golubovic gave a 4-point lead to the visitors, but the joy didn’t last as Dimitris Mavroeidis and Aaron Jackson combined for a short run to tie the game 20-20 at the end of the first quarter.
The hosts continued the streak after the break, recovering the lead thanks to a couple of free throws by Mavroeidis. The drought came to an end by the hands of Milko Bjelica, who hit from the corner for a new tie, 22-22, as Nemanja Bjelica headed the bench because of his third foul. Axel Hervelle and Mavroeidis took advantage of the situation to score twice and boost a short lead for the home team, 26-22, bringing the stands to their feet. Gescrap stayed in charge of the game, as Caja Laboral turned the ball over on consecutive offenses. Hervelle also contributed with another inside basket, exploiting Caja Laboral’s weakness in the paint and forcing an urgent timeout by coach Ivanovic with the hosts leading 29-24 midway through the second quarter. The instructions seemed to work fine, as Brad Oleson and Milko Bjelica scored a three and a layup to tie the game once again. Gescrap remained scoreless for almost three minutes until Banic showed a big three for a 32-29 lead entering the last 90 seconds. Things got better for the hosts very quickly, as Alex Mumbru hit twice from the foul line and the Caja Laboral bench was called for a technical foul that enabled Gescrap to extend the lead to 38-29 with one minute left. The situation seemed to become critical for the guests, but Ribas and Prigioni found some medicine for the disease and reduced the deficit to just 6 points, behind a penetration and a corner three, respectively, to close the first half at 40-34.
The first offense after the intermission lasted for a full minute, as Gescrap committed three consecutive fouls until Teletovic scored his first point of the game from the foul line. Banic and Milko Bjelica, the best performers of each team, exchanged baskets right before Blums and Mumbru connected twice from downtown to set a game-high Gescrap lead, 48-37, and force a much needed timeout by Caja Laboral. The game entered a non-scoring stage until Mumbru and Teletovic exchanged three pointers for a 53-42 Gescrap lead midway through the third quarter. Gescrap remained hot from downtown, this time thanks to a bomb by Hervelle. Caja Laboral struggled to score in a steady manner and addied points only from the free throw line. The guests’ reaction came smoothly, taking advantage of consecutive turnovers by Gescrap. Prigioni reduced the margin first with a layup, followed by a nice layup banked by Ribas and a basket off the offensive rebound by N. Bjelica to make it a 6-point game with less than two minutes to go. Roger Grimau gave some breathing room to Gescrap, quickly answered by a two handed dunk by Golubovic to close the third quarter with a short home lead, 58-52.
Grimau kept contributing, this time from the foul line, followed by Vasiliadis. Caja Laboral found the answer in Oleson, who nailed a three and capped a great baseline penetration with a two-handed dunk to bring his team within 62-57 with eight minutes to go. Nerves started to take over in both teams, turning each offense into a hard-nosed fight. As such, neither Gescrap nor Caja Laboral were able to add points in a regular manner. Banic and Milko Bjelica exchanged free throws just to keep the same distance between them, 63-58, with six minutes to go. Jackson scored a spectacular baseline layup to raise the advantage a little bit, giving some relief to his team, while Caja Laboral bet on its shooting accuracy to try to come back. No one seemed to have the key to open the rim from downtown, though. The differences remained steady for a while, with each team exploiting offensive rebounding and shot-clock beating baskets. A couple of free throws by Milko Bjelica made it a 3-point game, 69-66, with consecutive free throws to enter the last two minutes of the game right before Katsikaris called a time out to prepare the last wave. Banic lived up to expectations with a superb spin move and a jumper, but Teletovic replied quickly with a difficult layup to maintain his team’s hopes. The Bosnian forward couldn’t cap the play with the additional free throw, and even though Banic missed an open jumper right after that, Teletovic imitated him missing a crucial layup against a good defense in the following play. Gescrap was only 30 seconds from the win with a az71-68 edge and the ball. Caja Laboral started committing fouls till Vasiliadis sank a couple of free throws with 25 seconds to go and the home team leading 73-68. Prigioni scored a fast layup later, while Vasiliadis became the man to foul on the other side. The Greek guard didn’t miss either this time and even though Teletovic brought his team within 75-72 with 7 seconds to go, Blum sealed the win with another pair to send his team to the Top 16 in its Euroleague debut season.
Thursday, December 22, 2011