German powerhouse Alba Berlin pulled away strongly to an easy 82-60 victory over VEF Riga of Latvia on Thursday to get the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds going in Charleroi, Belgium. Alba will face the winner of host club Belgacom Spirou vs. BC Donetsk of Ukraine in the Charleroi semifinal on Saturday. Berlin looked in complete control as it won the middle quarters 40-25 and never looked back on its way to victory. Lucca Staiger hit 4 of 7 three-pointers and led five Alba double-digit scorers with 15 points. Dashaun Wood had 13, while Derrick Allen, Marko Simonovic and Kyle Weaver scored 11 each. Alba enjoyed a 16-7 advantage in assists, 6 of those by Weaver. For Riga, only Kaspars Berzins cracked double figures, and that with only 10 points after having 6 of those the game’s first 5 minutes. Sandis Valters followed with 8 points.
Woods got the scoring started for Alba, while Riga's first lead came at 3-4 on Tyler Cain's basket. That was met by a three-pointer by Staiger that Berzins answered with his own. A nifty underhand layup by Staiger left Berlin in front, but Berzin's second triple in a row put Riga up 8-10. Berlin followed Woods and Staiger to the game's biggest lead yet, 15-11, before Yassin Ibdihi joined them to make it an 11-3 run for an even bigger advantage, 19-13. Marko Simonovic added to Berlin's lead before Kyle Weaver's twisting layup made it a double-digit advantage, 24-14. But Dairis Bertans and Curtis Millage scored a three-point play each for Riga as Berlin's lead was cut in half, to 25-20, after one quarter.
Defenses took charge again to open the second quarter, until Heiko Schaffartzik's triple and 1 of 2 free throws had Berlin ahead by 29-22. Berzins and Cain got Riga to within 29-25 before Berlin took off again behind 4 points in a row by Allen and a killer triple from Stainer that made it 36-25. Valters answered from downtown for Riga, but soon Simonovic madeit 40-28 for Berlin on the way to the same advantage at halftime, 44-32.
A scoreless first couple of minutes after halftime ended with Kristaps Janicenoks hitting a pair of baskets, but they were split by Staiger's third three-pointer. Soon, with a 6-0 run on points by Weaver and Wood, Berlin was running away at 53-36. After a timeout, Riga got a triple from Valters, but Berlin gave little more scoring space as its lead reached a new high, 65-45 on Bryce Taylor's basket to finish the third quarter.
Berlin refused to lose focus in the final quarter, and worked to get all players involved, with a reverse by Torin Francis making it 72-54 midway through the quarter and Schaffartzik burying his second triple in as many tries later. Riga tried to shoot its way back into things, but Berlin was not looking ahead and finished its work strong before worrying about Saturday.
Thursday, September 29, 2011