In a result that is not as clear as its numbers, Alba Berlin defeated Hemofarm Stada 73-67 at home in the German capital on Tuesday to open their two-game series in the second Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds. The two teams head to Vrsac, Serbia to settle the matter on Friday. Alba will have to shake off some regrets quickly, however. First, it was supposed to play the second game at home, but had to give up that advantage when its homecourt wasn't available for Friday. Second, after leading by 20 on the first shot of the final quarter on Tuesday, Alba went almost 7 minutes without scoring and had to settle for a six-point victory. Marko Marinovic paced Alba with 15 points, his last ones breaking the dangerous fourth-quarter drought. Immanuel McElroy added 12 points, Julius Jenkins 11 and Derrick Allen 10 for Alba. Hemofarm got 16 points from Milan Macvan and 12 from Milos Borisov, then played the defense it needed to get back in the series late in the game.
Hemofarm grabbed a quick 2-7 lead on points split between Macvan and Miljan Pavkovic. Soon, Marinovic tied for Alba on a three-point play and McElroy supplied a 9-7 lead with free throws. Defenses dominated then, and even though Patrick Femerling's layup kept Alba ahead 14-9, Hemofarm rallied behind Macvan. The visitors finally seized a 17-19 lead on baskets by Mustafa Abdul Hamid and Boris Savovic before settling for a 21-21 tie after 10 minutes. Hollis Price buried a triple to open the second quarter, but before long Borisov was tying it up, 26-26 from the same distance. His layup was to make it 30-30, too. Just when it seemed neither team could escape, Alba rattled off a 10-3 run to finish the half with 5 points from Marinovic and take a double-digit 43-33 lead into the halftime lockers.
Alba kept following Marinovic's hot hand to extend its run to 24-7 and its lead, on a layup by Femerling, to 54-37 early in the second half. Alba's defense was the story now, and thhough Savovic and Borisov tried mightily, Hemofarm was at pains to lower the difference to single digits. That's because Allen and Jenkins finished the third quarter by splitting 8 points that held the hosts ahead by 64-48 on the scoreboard. After Bryce Taylor's basket provided a high lead of 20 points, 66-48, to open the final quarter, Hemofarm went to work again. Abdul Hamid sparked a 1-8 run before veteran Bojan Krstic dealt a big blow from long-range, lowering the difference to 67-59. Hemofarm's defense was now in charge, blanking Alba on its own court for almost 7 minutes until Marinovic ended the drought. Meanwhile, Krstovic hit free throws and Bozovic a layup to cut the difference to 69-65 in the next-to-last minute. McElroy helped keep the victory in Alba's hands, but Hemofarm took confidence from the knowledge that the second half of the battle is on its own floor Friday.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010