Bertans's game-winning triple lifts Laboral Kutxa over Madrid
In one of the best games in Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 history, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz conquered the home-court advantage in for the playoffs by edging Real Madrid 89-88 in front of 14,000 fans at Fernando Buesa Arena in Group F on Friday. Laboral qualified to the playoffs a day earlier due to other results and improved to 9-4 to lock up one of the top two spots in the group. Madrid dropped to 6-7 and faces a do-or-die game against Khimki Moscow Region in the Spanish capital next week. Madrid with be out with a loss, and will also be eliminated with a win if Laboral, Olympiacos Piraeus and Zalgiris Kaunas also win. Mike James led the winners with 27 points and Ioannis Bourousis added 25 and 10 rebounds, but Davis Bertans become Laboral's hero by hitting the game-winning three-pointer with 2.3 seconds left. Sergio Rodriguez led Madrid with 18 points, Gustavo Ayon and Sergio Llull each added 14, while K.C. Rivers had 10 for Madrid. Rivers had all the points in a 0-7 run that gave the champs an 11-26 lead early in the second quarter. Bourousis and Adam Hanga stepped up for Laboral to get the hosts a bit closer, 36-46, at halftime. James took over after the game with 18 third-quarter points, including a triple that tied it at 67-67 after 30 minutes. Laboral led 75-69 early in the fourth quarter, but Rodriguez, Llull and Felipe Reyes connected six times from downtown to put Madrid ahead. A free throw by Rodriguez gave Madrid an 86-88 lead with 4.7 seconds left, but Bertans saved the best for last, giving Laboral a crucial win that will be remembered by Laboral fans forever.
First quarter: Madrid shines on defense
Laboral head coach Velimir Perasovic opted for a tall starting lineup with Davis Bertans, Kim Tillie and Darko Planinic together on court. Both teams went scoreless in the opening two minutes until Felipe Reyes got Madrid going with a layup. Laboral could not find the way to the basket, while Jeffery Taylor sank a four-meter jumper and Llull added free throws for a 0-6 Madrid lead. Planinic stepped up with a tip-in and Bertans struck from downtown to bring Laboral within 1. Rudy Fernandez shined with a driving layup and erased Tillie's free throws with a fallaway jumper for a 7-10 Madrid lead. Llull buried a three-pointer and free throws by Reyes boosted the champs' lead to 7-15, after a 0-7 run. Bourousis and Taylor split foul shots and a triple by Andres Nocioni made it a double-digit game, 8-19. Alberto Corbacho answered from downtown, but a turnaround jumper by Rivers restored an 11-21 Madrid lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Three-pointers keep Los Blancos way ahead
Rivers took over with a driving layup early in the quarter and soon added a three-pointer in transition to boost the guests' margin to 11-26. Adam Hanga split free throws and a three-pointer by Bourousis - his 100th in the competition - gave Laboral hope at 15-26. Bourousis nailed another one from beyond the arc before Madrid stopped the game at 18-26. James joined the three-point shootout, but Rodriguez sank a six-meter jumper and Nocioni buried a triple from the right wing to give Madrid fresh air at 21-31. Darius Adams made free throws, but Llull did better with a bomb from downtown. Bourousis scored down low and a three-pointer by Rodriguez set a 25-39 Madrid lead. James ignited the crowd with a big slam and Bourousis hit a technical free throw, but Rodriguez kept Madrid way ahead, 28-42. James kept pushing Laboral with a driving layup. Tillie scored down low and Hanga had a big block on Rivers, which he followed for a put-back slam that made it 34-44 deficit. Planinic and Gustavo Ayon traded free throws to fix the halftime score at 36-46.
Third quarter: James erupts for the home team
Bertans and James fired in back-to-back three-pointers to bring Laboral within 42-46 right after the break. Ayon stepped up with a put-back layup, but Blazic matched it with a driving basket and Bourousis scored down low to make it a 2-point game. Fernandez shined with a big basket in transition, but James did better with a wild three. Ayon took over with an alley-oop dunk and matched James's driving basket with a layup. James fired in a huge three-pointer in transition to even the game at 54-54. Reyes split free throws, but an unstoppable James nailed a step-back triple to complete the comeback. Ayon fought back for Madrid with a layup and a third-chance basket, but left to the bench with 4 fouls right after that. Lima erased Tillie's free throws with a layup and added a tip-in for a 59-63 Madrid lead. James and Fernandez traded free throws before a layup by Bourousis brought Laboral within 62-64. Blazic scored around the basket, but Rivers did better with a corner three. James answered from downtown – his sixth three-pointer in as many attempts – to tie it at 67-67.
Fourth quarter: down to the final shot!
Carroll hit a one-handed jumper in the lane early in the quarter, but free throws by Adams and a put-back layup by Bourousis gave Laboral a 71-69 lead. Hanga detonated a two-handed slam and a layup by James caused Madrid to stop the game at 75-69. Llull took over with an off-balance bomb from downtown and then beat the shot clock with a circus shot that tied it at 75-75. Rodriguez collected a steal and immediately struck from downtown to cap a 0-9 Madrid run. Bourousis scored in the low post, but Rodriguez did better with a wild triple for a 77-81 Madrid lead with 4 minutes left. Bourousis and Reyes joined the three-point shootout, but Bourousis answered with a jump hook that made it 82-84. Rodriguez nailed another three-pointer, but free throws by Hanga kept Laboral within 84-87 in the next-to-last minute. Bourousis hit free throws before Rodriguez split attempts with 4.7 seconds left. Laboral called timeout and Bertans buried a huge three-pointer to win it and give his team the home-court advantage in the playoffs!
Friday, April 1, 2016