Germany: ALBA wins by 23 in finals Game 1
ALBA Berlin took a big step towards its ninth domestic championship in knocking off MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg 88-65 in Game 1 of the Finals of the German League Final Tournament. Martin Hermannsson and Rokas Giedraitis scored 14 points each to pace seven players in double figures for ALBA, which would have to lose Game 2 on Sunday by 24 points to not win its first league title since 2008. Landry Nnoko, Marcus Eriksson and Niels Giffey all added 12 points and Luke Sikma and Peyton Siva both chipped in 10 points for ALBA, which is appearing in its third straight Finals. Nick Weiler-Babb and Jonas Wohlfarth-Bottermann both tallied 11 points for Finals debutant Ludwigsburg which was playing without Marcos Knight, who was arguably the leading candidate for the tournament MVP and had collected double-doubles in the last four games for the team.
Jaleen Smith’s three-pointer opened the scoring in the tournament for Ludwigsburg and Eriksson’s floater gave ALBA its first lead 7-5. Eriksson added a three-pointer in a 7-0 ALBA surge for a 14-8 cushion Niels Giffey’s trey made it 19-13 after 10 minutes. Ludwigsburg teenagers Jacob Patrick and Lukas Herzog hit three-pointers to cut the deficit down to 22-20 early in the second quarter. ALBA responded with defense, strong offensive execution and offensive rebounding for an 18-4 run and a 40-24 advantage, and Siva’s three-pointer just before the break had ALBA up 46-29 at halftime.
Giedraitis and Giffey both hit three-pointers and scored five points in a 12-2 start to the second half for a 58-31 cushion. Nnoko dominated with five straight points in a 9-2 surge as the advantage swelled to 30 points, 67-37, and it was 69-42 after 30 minutes. Looking ahead to Game 2, Ludwigsburg tried to cut into the deficit and Weiler-Babb had a three-point play and put-back dunk in a 0-9 Ludwigsburg run to trim the gap to 73-53. ALBA did not let Ludwigsburg closer than 18 points and Hermannsson hit a three-pointer among six straight points to make it 83-61 and re-establish control.
Spain: Valencia clinches Group B, moves to semifinals
Valencia Basket is the winner of Group B in Spain's end-of-season tournaments and has gone through to the semifinals along with second-place San Pablo Burgos. In Friday's action, Valencia never trailed en route to 81-97 win over Herbalife Gran Canaria to secure first place in the group and will next play a fellow Turkish Airlines EuroLeague side KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in Sunday's semifinal.
Valencia took the lead for good with a 0-8 first-quarter run sparked by Jordan Loyd that helped the team open 11-21 lead. Three-pointers from Demonte Harper and Stan Okoye got Gran Canaria going late in the first, before 5 points from Emmanuel Lecomte, including a triple early in the second, helped it close within 32-33. But Fernando San Emeterio and Mike Tobey made sure Valencia never relinquished the lead and went into halftime up 44-51. Valencia pulled away in the third quarter when Loyd and Tobey combined to score 12 points in a 2-17 run that gave Valencia 49-68. Loyd and San Emeterio sparked another run, this time 0-9, to open 51-77 with 2 minutes to go in the third quarter, and Valencia cruised the rest of the way. Loyd paced the winners with 26 points on 5-for-6 three-point shooting, and Tobey collected 18 points plus 11 rebounds. Quino Colom had 13 points, San Emeterio finished with 11 and Vanja Marinkovic netted 10 in a victory that improved Valencia to 4-1 record. Harper had 15 points for Gran Canaria which finished the competition with 2-3 record. Beqa Burhanadze scored 11, while Oriol Pauli and Javier Beiran had 10 points apiece in a loss.
In the first game of the day, Burgos rallied from a 16-point deficit to edge MoraBanc Andorra 88-86, improving to 3-2 record in Group B while eliminating Andorra which finished the group stage with 2-3 record. Burgos earned it clinched second place later when Valencia won its game, and will next square off against FC Barcelona in the semis. Andorra controlled things majority of the game against Burgos, taking a double-digit lead early in the second quarter when Frantz Massenat hit one from long range to spark a 0-12 run, during which David Walker also hit a three-pointer before Dejan Todorovic capped the run to open 23-34 lead. Consecutive triples from Jeremy Senglin and Todorovic opened 35-51 late in the second quarter, and the margin was 13 points at halftime, but Burgos rallied. Thad McFadden and Vitor Benite sparked an 8-0 run that got Andorra within 55-59 in the third, and even though Massenat had a triple and Tyson Perez scored 8 points that restored 60-72 late in the third, Burgos made a strong push in the fourth behind center Dragan Apic. Senglin kept Andorra in front, and his triple made it 75-81 with 3:30 to go, but Benite hit a three-pointer and Apic scored twice in an 8-0 run that gave Burgos the lead. After Nacho Llovet tied it at 83-83, Ferran Bassas knocked down a triple with 14 seconds left, and Burgos prevailed. Benite scored 23 points and Apic had 19 in victory, while David Jelinek led Andorra with 19 points. Perez, Todorovic and Massenat scored 12 apiece in a losing effort.
Real Madrid went out on a winning note, downing Casademont Zaragoza 97-88 to finish with 3-2 record, while Zaragoza dropped to 4-1. Walter Tavares was everywhere amassing 22 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists. Facundo Campazzo had 17 points and 6 assists, while Trey Thompkins scored 13 points for Real which never trailed in the game. Dylan Ennis had 13 points for Zaragoza. Fabien Causeur and Campazzo fueled Real into building a first-quarter lead, but Zaragoza responded and tied it at 24-24 on a triple from Barreiro early in the second quarter. But three-pointers from Thompkins, Felipe Reyes, Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Llull restored control for Real before Thompkins capped a 12-0 run to make it 47-31. Los Blancos led by 12 at halftime and Zaragoza came within 65-58 in the third quarter, but never closer than that. Two three-pointers from Jeffrey Taylor finished the third quarter, making it 77-61. Zaragoza rallied again in the fourth, getting within 89-84, before Tavares and Campazzo iced the game.