Alba Berlin clinched a seat in the semi-finals of the Ciutat de L'Hospitalet tournament despite an 82-69 loss to Regal FC Barcelona on Tuesday evening in L'Hospitalet, Spain. The 29 point win over Estudiantes yesterday, gave Alba a 15 points breathing room coming to the deciding match against Regal FCB, which turned out to be just enough. As the Group B champs the team from Berlin will face Unicaja Malaga in the second semi-finals tomorrow. The winner will advance to the finals and get a chance to win the second ticket to the Nike International Junior Tournament that is held for the past 8 years during the Euroleague Final Four weekend. Zalgiris Kaunas has already qualified to the final set, while two more teams will be joined through additional qualifying rounds. Regal FCB took over the game right from the start targeting the 16 point win. The needed margin was reached several times, including stretches in the last quarter, but Alba wrote a great finish and stayed focus to survive the attack. Sebastian Fulle had another bright performance with 19 points and 7 rebounds, Julius Wolf added 16 with 8 boards and Erik Mueller had 11. Joan Creus shinned for Regal FCB with 22 points, followed by Angel Aparicio with 20 points, Carles Marzo had 17 and Michel Acosta added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Regal FCB wasted no time and with a 0-13 run took an early 4-15 lead. Aparicio showed great activity and scored 10 points already in the first quarter, to help his team stay far ahead. With the first five points in the second quarter Regal FCB reached the desired 16 point difference, and quickly added two more to the bill, but Alba found answers in the hands of Wolf who attacked the rim and earned his points fairly. Creus, with 15 first half points, scored time after time to keep his side in its desired spot, and reach the break up by 18, 46-28. The game was clearly in the hands of Regal FCB and the scoreboard displayed already a 26 point gap midway in the third, but Alba never lost hope and relayed on the cushion it carried from the big win yesterday. Fulle scored only 3 points in the first half, but found the perfect timing to step up, at first keeping the margin around the 20 point line, and midway in the fourth made the big step. Creus hit a three pointer and made it 73-53 with 6 minutes on the clock, things look well for his team, but that was also his last bucket of the game. Fulle in return combined six quick points and suddenly Alba were in the safe zone. Aparicio and Crues tried to make the change, but Fulle was there time after time to make the key plays. His free throws in the closing seconds cut the margin to only 10, which left Regal FCB the chance to hit the three with the buzzer and make it look closer than it was.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010