MoraBanc makes it eight straight wins at home
MoraBanc Andorra remained undefeated at home this season and perfect in the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 with a tough 87-81 victory over Cedevita Zagreb on Wednesday at Poliesportiu D'Andorra. The win lifted MoraBanc to 5-0 in Group H, but next week it travels to Russia for a showdown with UNICS Kazan. If MoraBanc wins or loses by less than 6 points, it will finish atop the group and have home-court advantage in the quarterfinals. Otherwise, it will drop to second and UNICS will win the group. Dylan Ennis and John Shurna scored 17 points apiece to pace MoraBanc, which went into the fourth quarter with the score tied 64-64, but scored the next 7 points to take the lead for good. David Walker added 15 and Reggie Upshaw and Andrew Albicy netted 10 points apiece. MoraBanc outrebounded Cedevita 37-29 and only allowed the visitors 4 offensive boards. Justin Cobbs led Cedevita with a game-high 19 points plus 6 assists, Jacob Pullen scored 16, Elgin Cook 15, Toni Katic 12 and
Andrija Stipanovic 10. The loss dropped Cedevita, which was eliminated from quarterfinal contention last week, to 0-5 in this stage.
MoraBanc turned defense into offense early with Walker and Moussa Diagne taking steals in for fouls and points. After another Cedevita turnover, Shurna's triple made it 10-4. Stipanovic and Cobbs kept Cedevita close before Ivan Ramljak tied the game at 17-17. A second Shurna triple put MoraBanc back on top, but Pullen capped a 2-9 Cedevita run to give the visitors a 2-point edge. Jerome Jordan's jumper on the first-quarter buzzer evened things at 26-26. There were four lead changes in the first 5 minutes of the second quarter. The red-hot Katic lifted Cedevita to a 33-38 advantage and a Pullen triple made it 37-43. Upshaw's basket-plus-foul in the final minute of the half drew MoraBanc within 42-46 at the break. Cook kept Cedevita's momentum with a three in the first minute of the second half, but MoraBanc remained within striking distance. Ennis struck from downtown, Diagne rejected a shot at the other end and Shurna sank free throws as the hosts climbed ahead 55-54. Ennis nailed another triple as the hosts threatened to pull away at 62-56, which is when Cedevita called timeout. The stop worked as the visitors scored the next 5 points and tied the game at 64-64 on a three by Pullen to end the third quarter. Walker's first three – on his sixth attempt – started a 7-0 run that saw Upshaw score twice for a 71-64 lead. Cedevita scored a pair of quick baskets to get back in it. Cobbs drew his team within 77-75 with a three-point play with 2 and a half minutes to go. Albicy, with free throws and then a layup for his first basket of the night, gave the hosts a promising 6-point cushion. A Shurna layup all but put the game on ice and MoraBanc held on the rest of the way.
Andrew Albicy missed some time with a finger injury, but returned to action Wednesday with a protective wrap over his wound. The diminutive guard did not have his typical impact on the game through the first three and a half quarters, but when Coach Navarro sent him back into the game with 5 minutes to go and Cedevita within 3, Albicy was ready. He scored 8 points – 6 from the free throw line – in the final 2:28 to help MoraBanc hold off the Croatian champs to claim the victory.
The winning team can look at many things it did well to win this game. MoraBanc shot 70% (21 of 30) on two-point shots, made 90% (18 of 20) on free throws, outrebounded Cedevita 37-29 – including 12-4 on offensive rebounds, and forced 15 turnovers. Cedevita can rue its own free throw shooting (12 of 22, 54.5%), which could have changed the game.
Did you notice?
MoraBanc set a club record for the most three-point shots attempted in a EuroCup game with 37. That amount is tied for the second-most of any team in the competition this season. The multitude of threes nearly backfired, since the team only made 9 – or 24.3%. Dylan Ennis took the most, making 5 of 11 shots, to tie teammate Reggie Upshaw for the most threes attempted by a MoraBanc player in a EuroCup game. Eight different players shot threes, but only three players made any.
MoraBanc visits UNICS Kazan in Round 6 in a clash for first place in the group. Cedevita will finish it EuroCup season with a home date with Zenit St. Petersburg.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019