Valencia Basket got 22 points from both Nikola Kalinic and Klemen Prepelic in outlasting CSKA 105-103 in double overtime at home on Thursday. In doing so, the hosts equaled a season-high with 14 three-pointers, but more importantly, Valencia finally won a tight game again.
The team opened the season with a 9-5 mark, including a 4-1 record in games decided by 5 points or fewer - the only loss being a 5-point defeat at FC Barcelona in Round 3. Valencia’s season took a major turn after that though, managing only a 2-7 mark in that stretch, including three straight losses heading into the Round 24 game with CSKA. And after having won close games early on, those nailbiters went the other way as Valencia had dropped its last three such results - the latest when Marius Grigonis sank an off-balance jumper on the buzzer to give Zalgiris Kaunas a 78-79 road victory in Round 22 last week.
This time, it was the Valencia players who came up with the big plays. Trailing 82-84 in the final minute of regulation, Prepelic dished a pass to Mike Tobey for a dunk to even the game. And then Sam Van Rossom blocked Mike James's three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
At the end of the first overtime, Martin Hermannsson had a chance to put Valencia up from the free-throw line with just 6.4 seconds to play. However, he only split the free throws to tie the game 95-95 - snapping a streak of 27 consecutive made free throws for Hermannsson - and sending the contest to a second OT.
The game was even 103-103 inside the final minute of the second extra session when Bojan Dubljevic grabbed a big offensive rebound on a Prepelic miss. The ball eventually landed with Kalinic who had a mismatch being guarded by CSKA big man Johannes Voigtmann. Kalinic drove past Voigtmann and scored the layup with 44 seconds remaining. Mike James would end up missing 2 three-pointers in the final 37 seconds and Valencia had finally snapped its three-game losing streak.
The game was Valencia's first overtime game this season and its fifth-ever in the EuroLeague. The club now has a 3-2 record in such games.
“It was a great win for us. Two overtimes, it was a really amazing game. We are a little disappointed we lost the last couple of games and we weren’t at the same level of energy and focus. But okay, maybe this is a turn-around," said a hopeful Kalinic.
Prepelic added: "It was very important for us. We know what the goal was since the beginning of the season: to get to the top eight. We are trying to achieve that. If we want to be in those spots, we need to win these kinds of games, especially if we had a couple of games that we shouldn’t have lost."
Maybe those days of losing close games are over again for Valencia.