Valencia Basket advanced to the Eurocup Semifinals despite a 71-68 road loss to Unics Kazan. Valencia held on to its 10-point lead from Game 1 and advanced on points differential. Pau Ribas led Valencia with 16 points. Rafa Martinez added 11 while Thomas Kelati and Justin Doellman each had 10 for the series winners. Chuck Eidson led Unics with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Ian Vougioukas added 11 and Vladimir Veremeenko had 10 for the hosts. Back-to-back triples by Mike Wilkinson allowed Unics to get a 20-14 lead after 10 minutes. A jump hook by Vougioukas soon made it a 9-point game. Martinez, Doellman and Ribas brought Valencia a bit closer, 35-31, at halftime. Valencia improved its defense after the break and found a go-to guy in Kelati, who had all of his 10 points early in the third quarter to give Valencia a 41-49 edge. Veremeenko led a 13-1 run that brought Unics back to life, 54-50, late in the third quarter. Three-pointers by Florent Pietrus and Martinez helped Valencia to seal the series, 54-61, and even though Unics kept trying, the guests had already sealed their ticket to the semifinals.
Both teams struggled to score early until Bojan Dubljevic stepped up with a layup. Ian Vougioukas got Unics going with free throws, which Ribas erased with a five-meter jumper. Terrell Lyday shined with a backdoor layup that Dubljevic bettered with a bomb from downtown, good for a 4-7 Valencia lead. Mire Chatman nailed his trademark stop-and-pop jumper and a four-meter shot by Eidson gave Unics its first lead, 8-7. Stefan Markovic scored in transition, but Eidson made free throws on Serhiy Lishchuk's third foul and followed that with a long two-pointer for a 12-9 Unics lead. Pavel Antipov sank foul shots that capped a 6-0 run. Doellman rescued Valencia with a triple off a timeout. Mike Wilkinson answered from downtown and bettered Rafa Martinez's fast break layup with another triple to give Unics a 20-14 lead after 10 minutes. Petr Samoylenko buried a close jumper early in the second quarter, which Vitor Faverani erased with a five-meter shot. Vougioukas split free throws and added a jump hook to boost the hosts' lead to 25-16. Rodrigo San Miguel stepped up with a layup and a three-pointer by Martinez gave Valencia some fresh air, 25-21. Doellman banked in a turnaround jumper to cap a 0-7 Valencia run. Wilkinson sank a jump hook off a timeout. The guests tried a taller lineup with Florent Pietrus at small forward, but Unics kept rolling. Chatman swished a baseline jumper that Doelmann matched with an off-balance basket. Eidson made free throws and a layup by Vladimir Veremeenko boosted Unics's lead to 33-25. Ribas nailed a mid-range jumper and soon added a three-pointer to bring Valencia within 33-30. Free throws by Lishchuk and Vougioukas fixed the halftime score at 35-31.
Ribas downed a close jumper immediately after the break, but Kostas Kaimakoglou improved that with a three-pointer. Kelati answered with a five-meter jumper and Ribas struck from downtown to force Unics to call timeout at 38-38. Valencia kept using long possessions to hold on to its lead in the series. Doellman joined the three-point shootout, as Unics kept struggling to score right when it mattered most. Kelati downed a triple that seemed to break the series open, 38-44. Antipov answered from downtown, but a red-hot Kelati took over with a triple and a six-meter jumper that forced Unics to call timeout at 41-49. Eidson made free throws and a dunk by Veremeenko gave the hosts some hope at 45-49. Veremeenko kept pacing Unics with free throws, Faverani split free throws before Eidson and Kaimakoglou tied it at 50-50. A red-hot Veremeenko followed free throws with a jumper, but a buzzer-beating triple by Pietrus kept Valencia within 54-53 through three quarters. Martinez buried a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter and soon struck again from downtown to boost Valencia's lead to 54-59. Unics could not find the way to the basket and free throws by Pietrus made it a 17-point series, 54-61, with seven minutes to go. Vougioukas and Eidson made free throws to keep the hosts within 60-61, but Valencia did not panic. San Miguel rescued Valencia with a triple, but three-pointers by Kaimakoglou and Eidson put Unics back ahead, 67-64, with two minutes to go. Ribas followed free throws with a driving basket to keep Valencia out of trouble until the final buzzer.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013