A game-long chase scene ended with host Valencia Basket pulling away for an 88-78 home win over Banvit BK Bandirma of Turkey on Tuesday in the Group D opening game for both teams. A 12-0 blast to open the second half gave Valencia all the cushion it needed to hold on when Banvit made a late, hard-charging comeback try. Three-pointers by Serhiy Lishchuk and Stefan Markovic in the final 3 minutes ended up sealing the victory. Valencia was led by Pau Ribas, who hit 4 of 5 three-pointers on the way to 23 points and 4 assists. Rafa Martinez followed with 16 points, while Lishchuk added 14 and Markovic 12. For Banvit, the top scorer was Chuck Davis with 16 points, while Sammy Mejia contributed 14, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Vladimir Stimac added 13 points before fouling out, while Kalin Lucas had 10. Valencia's advantage of 11 three-pointers made to just 4 for Banvit, albeit with an incredible one on the half-time buzzer by Mejia, proved too much for the visitors to overcome.
Kenan Bajramovic shot Banvit in front first, 2-5, but it wasn't long before Martinez was doing the same for Valencia with back-to-back three-pointers that put the hosts ahead 12-9. Serkan Erdogan and Mejia took the lead back for Banvit at 14-15, but a third triple from Martinez highlighted Valencia's return to a 21-17 advantage. A pair of layups by Stimac tied it before Markovic beat the first-quarter buzzer with a layup to put Valencia ahead 23-21 after 10 minutes. Markovic dunked to open the second quarter, but it wasn't until Ribas buried his first three-pointer that Valencia could get some breathing room at 32-26. Despite his next one, however, Banvit strung together 5 free throws with a Davis layup and a slam by Keith Simmons to tie it up, 35-35. Lucas took the lead for Banvit at the foul line, but Ribas was unstoppable, as he hit another three-pointer, a two and 2 free throws while also assisting a triple by Martinez to send Valencia in front 45-38. Banvit was resilient enough to stay close so that when Mejia made a miraculous shot from the free throw line more than 22 meters away, the visitors wer as close as 47-43 at halftime.
To open the second half, Valencia went inside to Lishchuk while Ribas got to the free throw line for 4 perfect shots in a row during a 12-0 run that blew up the scoreboard to a 59-43 lead. A basket by Stimac ended the run, but then Ribas drilled a triple for Valencia's biggest lead yet, 62-45. Erdogan and Mejia made baskets to cut the difference to 62-50 . After a Valencia timeout, Florent Pietrus turned an offensive rebound into a three-point shot and Justin Doellman also put another miss in for a 67-52 edge. Soon, Stimac fouled out with 2 minutes left in the third quarter, but Davis and Lucas made reverse layups to keep Banvit alive. Mejia joined in with a three-point play as the visitors lowered the difference to single digits, 73-64, in time for the final quarter. Davis scored the only points for 3 minutes from the free throw line to get Banvit that much closer before a lot of missed shots ended with Izzet Turkyilmaz hitting nothing but net from long range for a 73-69 score. But now the Valencia defense roared and Doellman scored twice to restore a 77-69 lead. Turkyilmaz and Davis, with a three-point basket-plus-free throw combo, lowered the difference to 79-74 with 3 minutes to play. Simmons added a fastbreak layup off Erdogan's steal at 79-76. A Banvit zone seemed to worry Valencia until Lishchuk buried a three-pointer at 82-76. When Valencia got a three-pointer from way downtown by Markovic in the final minute, the home crowd could breathe easy with its first Eurocup victory in the bag.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012