Valencia tops Zvezda, extends streak
Valencia Basket extended its winning streak to seven games and remained perfect in the Top 16 with a 92-76 win over visiting Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on Wednesday night. Valencia is now 3-0 and in first place in Group G and can qualify for the EuroCup Quarterfinals already next week, while Zvezda dropped into third place with a 1-2 record. Bojan Dubljevic, who became the all-time leader in offensive rebounds in this game, paced Valencia with 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Will Thomas had 13 points in victory. Joe Ragland netted 21 points and Billy Baron added 11 in defeat.
Ragland scored 6 quick points, but Valencia had five different players score, including back-to-back triples from Joan Sastre to make it 14-12. Maik Zirbes had a put-back and Michael Ojo a three-point play to restore the visitors' lead. A pair of baskets from Stratos Perperoglou, including a three-pointer, helped Zvezda hold a 21-23 edge after the first quarter. Valencia, however, scored the first 9 points in the second quarter with a long-range dagger from Matt Thomas and a fastbreak dunk from Will Thomas opening a 30-23 lead. Aleksa Radanov had 4 points to snap an 11-0 run, but Sam Van Rossom had a pair of threes that helped extend the margin to 9 points. Billy Baron and Mouhammad Faye combined to score 10 points, including a three-pointer each, as the visitors cut it to 42-37 at halftime. Zvezda had the better start to the third quarter, too. Ragland hit a triple while scoring 9 points, and Faye and Baron each nailed a three of their own to get within 53-52. However, Valencia sped up, and Will Thomas scored 5 points in a 7-0 run, including a three-point play on a fast break. Mike Tobey scored inside and Rafa Martinez hit one from downtown as Valencia opened a 67-55 lead and took a 10-point margin into the fourth quarter. Matt Thomas had a jumper and a triple that kept the margin in double figures. Filip Covic scored 7 points to keep Zvezda's chances alive, but Antoine Diot fed Dubljevic twice for easy baskets and another triple from Matt Thomas extended the difference to 83-68 with 4:30 to go. Ragland and Baron hit three-pointers for the visitors, but Diot hit shots to extend the margin even more.
Valencia took the lead for good scoring the first 9 points of the second quarter. While getting points in transition and in early offense from Sam Van Rossom, Bojan Dubljevic and Will Thomas, the team held Zvezda scoreless for 4 minutes. The hosts took control and never relinquished the lead.
Valencia dished 22 assists to only 3 turnovers, which is tied for the club's record for fewest turnovers in a single EuroCup game.
Valencia had nine players score between 7 and 14 points in this game. It also had 10 players with at least 1 assist. Such balance is tough to beat.
Dubljevic needed just 3 minutes and 42 seconds for his first offensive board and then pulled down his second with 6:46 to go in the fourth, which put him at 214 for his career and moved him past Vladimir Veremeenko (213) into the EuroCup all-time lead in offensive rebounding. By making 7 two-point shots, Dubljevic reached 262 for his career, moving into fourth place in competition history in two-point shots made and passing Petr Benda (256) in the process.
These two teams will face each other again in a week when Zvezda hosts Valencia in a reverse fixture. If Valencia wins, it will secure its place in the quarterfinals.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019