Home favorites Valencia Basket beat back several comebacks to defeat FC Bayern Munich 84-76 on Tuesday in the WE'RE BACK PRESEASON TOUR. Valencia will host LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, an earlier winner over Olympiacos Piraeus, in the tournament title game on Wednesday night. Valencia led early and often but that didn't stop Bayern from rallying to tie in each half and get within a point late in the fourth quarter. Valencia never let Bayern take the lead, however. Big men Mike Tobey and Bojan Dubljevic, with 17 and 15 points, respectively, paced the winners. Martin Hermannsson added 12 including a big triple down the stretch. Nick Weiler-Babb led Bayern with 14 points, while Wade Baldwin and Vladimir Lucic added 12 each and Zan Sisko 10.
Tobey scored 6 points in less than 3 minutes to help Valencia to a quick 11-5 advantage. Baldwin's 5 in a row soon forged a 12-12 tie. Dubljevic's first basket, a put-back, opened a 20-14 Valencia lead and that margin held at 24-18 after 10 minutes. Dubljevic rolled for a layup and stepped out for a triple to suddenly open a 29-18 early in the second quarter. T.J. Bray promptly buried a couple of triples to get Bayern within 29-26, but Tobey returned to expand the difference to 38-31. Leon Radosevic and JuJuan Johnson gave Bayern points inside, but big shots by Tobey and Guillem Vives kept the hosts in charge, 44-36, at the half. Lucic set the tone from deep for Bayern with a triple to open the second half that led soon enough to Baldwin completing a 2-10 run to a 53-53 tie. Dubljevic led Valencia's response before Sisko and Derek Williams traded triples, leaving a 63-60 scoreboard after three quarters. Tobey and Sam Van Rossom were joined by Hermannsson in re-upping the lead to 70-61 early in the fourth. Williams busted another triple but Lucic kept Bayern in touch until Weiler-Babb's three-pointer and Malcolm Thomas's first basket suddenly made it 73-71 with less than 4 minutes left. Weiler-Babb struck again at 75-74 but despite two chances to take the lead, Bayern couldn't. Louis Labeyrie fed Vives and Hermannsson buried a second-chance triple to end the threat at 80-74 and send Valencia forward to victory.
Some luck fans
Under domestic pandemic guidelines, a total of 400 socially-distanced fans were allowed into La Fonteta for Tuesday's game, and of course they were ready to make all the noise they could for Valencia. They also got to see how several core players who have worn the orange for years mix with some fresh faces playing before them for the first time, which is just what fans want from a home preseason game.
¡Mañana vamos a por el trofeo!
Final We’re Back P. Tour
Miércoles 16 - 20h
Those fans had plenty of players to make them feel at home. Center Bojan Dubljevic, going on nine seasons with the club, came off the bench to score 7 points in 3 minutes bridging the first two quarters. Point guard Sam Van Rossom (eight) had his fingerprints all over his team's 44 first-half points with 5 assists. Guillem Vives (seven) made big plays at the end of each half, while Fernando San Emeterio (six) was his hustling self and Joan Sastre (five) had a huge early dunk.
That is silky smooth from @hermannsson15!#7DAYSMagicMoment pic.twitter.com/jyDBhC9XXR
For Valencia, forward Derek Williams didn't miss a shot while compiling 8 points and 4 rebounds in limited time, but it was Hermannsson who started and proved decisive down the stretch, finishing with 4 assists to go with is 12 points. For Bayern, Baldwin and Weiler-Babb stood out among their new signings. The former used his footspeed to get to the basket and the latter found his shot finally to almost complete Bayern's many comeback attempts.
Indeed, despite the final difference and several double-digit deficits in the second half, the visitors never folded their tents and could have finally taken a first lead with the score showing 75-74 and under 3 minutes left. Lucic was open for a go-ahead transition three, but smartly sent the ball cross-court to Weiler-Babb, who had just downed two in a row. This time Weiler-Babb's shot did not fall, and when Lucic had his own try shortly after, he missed too, opening the door for Valencia to take control again, and for good this time.
Trinchieri's last word
Fans were used to the thoughtful responses of FC Bayern Munich head coach Andrea Trinchieri when he coached in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague before, and he was the same on Tuesday when asked about playing in a near-empty arena:
"In January if you come to me and you ask, 'What about playing with no fans?' I would have said, 'Hell, no.' Now, if I see three people in the arena, I am happy. It's a beginning. We have to give a sign that we are fighting... I believe this is very important. It's not perfect; it's far from being perfect...But whatever looks like a little bit like normal is a big win for all of us."
Jaume Ponsaurnau, head coach
"I'm especially happy because the team is improving, and after this game, we recognize that there are things we can improve more. So we're happy knowing the team can improve more. The most important thing is to show that we can compete mentally."
Mike Tobey, center
"They came out on fire in the second half. They were really pressing us, making a lot of shots. That put a lot of pressure on us to really step up our game. I'm happy with how we responded. We were able to get a win, but there are definitely a lot of things we still need to work on. That's why it's early in the season."
Martin Hermannsson, guard
"I think we did a pretty good job overall. In some parts of the game, we lost the energy a little bit, maybe because it's preseason still. But if we want to win games this season, we have to play better for the whole game and keep the energy high, because we have a lot of players that we can rotate really quick and really fast. That's maybe the only negative about today, that we lost the rhythm a little too often. But we are otherwise happy about the game overall and about the win."