DKV Joventut took a step forwards in its race to reach the Top 16 in Group C by downing Union Olimpija 65-86 in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Thursday night. Joventut improved to 3-3 and ties with Fenerbahce Ulker for the third spot in Group C. Meanwhile, Olimpija dropped to 1-5 and is two wins away from the Top 16 cut with just four games to go. Luka Bogdanovic led the winners with 16 points. Bracey Wright and Edu Hernandez-Sonseca each added 14 while Ferran Laviña had 13 for Joventut. There were some good news for Joventut, as star guard Ricky Rubio returned to action with 2 assists and a steal in less than 3 minutes. Jasmin Hukic and Frank Robinson led Olimpija each with 15 points. A three-pointer by Hukic gave Olimpija its only lead, 16-14, early in the second quarter. Laviña, Bogdanovic and Hernandez-Sonseca stepped up to put Joventut back ahead, 31-38, at halftime. Laviña kept pacing DKV after the break and got some help from Pau Ribas and Simas Jasaitis to make it a 17-point game, 45-62, after 30 minutes. Olimpija never recovered, as Joventut cruised to a well-deserved, convicing road win.
Joventut coach Sito Alonso shocked everyone by placing Josep Franch in the starting lineup. Bogdanovic got DKV going with a three-pointer while Jasaitis
added a tip-in for a 2-5 lead. Olimpija missed open shots in the early going and did not lock the defensive rebound either. Meanwhile, Bogdanovic buried a
jumper for a 2-7 Joventut lead after 4 minutes. Olimpija found a go-to guy in Robinson, who scored in penetration to get the crowd involved.
Hernandez-Sonseca scored in the other end but Mirza Begic got the hosts within 6-9. Begic had consecutive blocks on Hernandez-Sonseca and made free throws but Bracey Wright banked in a mid-range shot to keep Joventut ahead, 8-11. Robinson beat the shot clock with an acrobatic put-back layup, as Olimpija had improved its defense late in this period. Ribas stepped up with a seven-meter bomb but Hukic answered from downtown off an Olimpija timeout to keep the hosts
within 13-14 after 10 minutes.
Another three-pointer by Hukic gave Olimpija its first lead, 16-14, early in the second quarter. Laviña shined with a three-point play, as Ricky Rubio stepped on court for the first time this season and immediately collected a steal to feed Bogdanovic for a fast break dunk. Laviña capped a 0-7 run with another basket but Hukic - who else? - sank another triple for a 19-21 Olimpija deficit. Vlado Ilievski tied the game with a jumper but Laviña nailed a triple that hit the rim three times and went in. Vladimir Golubovic dunked it but Bogdanovic answered from downtown while Wright added a layup-plus-foul by Wright gave DKV a 23-30 edge. Joventut was a different team in defense now while Hernandez-Sonseca capped a 0-8 run with a power layup. Ilievski nailed a triple but free throws by Wright and Hernandez-Sonseca made it a double-digit game, 26-36. Robinson took over with a three-point play while Hernandez-Sonseca and Miha Zupan traded jumpers to fix the halftime score at 31-38.
Henk Norel provided a highlight with an alleyoop dunk right after the break while Bogdanovic added a tip-in to give Joventut a 31-42 margin right after the break. Ribas took over with a running jumper and even when Olimpija called timeout, a three-pointer by Jasaitis capped a 0-9 run and made it a 13-point game, 31-44. Robinson tried to change things with a power layup but Ribas grabbed a rebound, raced downcourt and nailed a running triple. Robinson kept pacing Olimpija with another basket that Laviña erased with a fast break layup. Olimpija had lost control in offense while a put-back layup by Hernandez-Sonseca made it a 19-point game, 35-54. Hukic stepped up with a layup and Robinson added a free throw to give Olimpija some hope at 40-54. Franch took over with a reverse layup that Robinson erased with an outstanding dunk. Jan Jagla shined with a put-back layup but Hukic answered from downtown. Free throws by Wright and Jagla helped Joventut to get a 45-62 margin after three quarters.
Olimpija needed to improve its shooting selections to try an early comeback but Wright silenced the crowd with a bomb from downtown. Bogdanovic soon added a jumper to make a 21-point game, 46-67, enough to seal the outcome with 8 minutes remaining. Olimpija kept trying, however, but everything went wrong for the hosts now. Laviña buried a triple, making Olimpija call timeour at 46-70. Hernandez-Sonseca shined with an aleyoop layup, as Olimpija tried to get Robinson involved without much success. Norel had a big block that allowed Bogdanovic to dunk it in the other end, good for a 49-76 margin. Joventut opted to sit out its players on the final minutes, allowing Olimpija to rally once the outcome was clear. Joventut left Ljubljana with its first road win this season. Meanwhile, Olimpija will play three of its four remaining games on the road, so a major turnaround is needed to keep its Top 16 chances alive.
Thursday, December 4, 2008