Coming into Week 21 of Spain’s Liga Endesa, Caja Laboral Vitoria was sporting a 12-game league winning streak. On Sunday, Caja took to the road to face the club that last beat them, Blusens Monbus, at home during Week 8. Right after the defeat, Caja’s coach, Dusko Ivanovic, was fired and replaced by Zan Tabak. They won during Week 9 and then picked off three close games, a couple by large margins and after Week 20, they had won 12 straight. Since that loss in November, Vitoria has only lost five matches of the 25 they have played; five in the Euroleague (three straight) and they lost to FC Barcelona Regal in the semi-finals of last week’s Copa del Rey. With four recent losses, the club is struggling a bit, but they are currently sitting in the No. 2 spot in the Liga Endesa at 17-4 behind Real Madrid at 20-1.
Unfortunately for Caja, Blusens seems to have their number and came away with a big 84:70 win in front of their home crowd of an estimated 5,308. In the process of snapping Caja’s 12 game Liga Endesa winning streak, they extended the club’s current losing streak to three across all competitions. The win bumps Blusens’ record to 10-11, just two games out of the coveted top eight spots that will make the playoffs at the end of the 34 game regular season.
The guests tallied the first five points of the contest, that was the extent of their lead for the contest as the hosts countered and took over. It was a close match in the first frame, with Blusens holding a slim 19:18 margin at the end of the first 10.
Robbie Hummel found his range for the home club and dropped in 11 points during the second quarter, to help his club extend their lead to six, 46:40, heading into the break.
Blusens added two more to their advantage in the third and then pushed to double digits in the final 10, ending with a 14-point, 84:70 win.
This contest was the third consecutive win in the Blusens Monbus – Caja Laboral series for Blusens as they also took a win earlier in 2012.
Levon Kendall was game-high for Blusens Monbus with 19 points, 11 rebounds and an evaluation of 33 on the day. Pavel Pumprla added 16 points and 4 assists, Robbie Hummel dropped in 15 points and Alberto Corbacho tallied 14.
Maciej Lampe paced Caja with 18 points, and Nemanja Bjelica added 16 points and 9 rebounds.
Liga Endesa Week 21 Matchups
Lagun Aro GBC – Blancos de Rueda Valladolid, 94:78
Lagun Aro GBC earned their fourth win on the 21 week season with a 94:78 victory over Blancos de Rueda Valladolid. The win still has Lagun in the cellar of the league at 4-17, but now tied with Basquet Manresa. The loss dropped Valladolid to 8-13 and tied with CB Canaries for the No. 8 spot in the Liga Endesa.
Valladolid only led twice in this contest, at 0:2 and 3:4, otherwise it was all Lagun. By the end of the first quarter they were up 25:15 and then 43:30 at the half. They tacked on three more in the third and had a battle with their guests in the fourth with both clubs knocking down 28 points in the last 10.
Morris Finley led the way for Lagun with 20 points, David Doblas added 19 points and 8 rebounds, and Qyntel Woods dropped in 17.
Alex Renfroe got 19 for Valladolid, Nacho Martin added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
FIATC Joventut – Uxue Bilbao Basket, 70:81
Normally a solid shooting team, FIATC Joventut found the lids on the baskets tighter than usual, especially when the Green and Black were launching three-balls. During their Week 21 Liga Endesa contest with Uxe Bilbao Baskets, the hosts could only connect on 5 of 30 triples (17%), compared to 12 of 22 (55%) for Bilbao. In fact, Joventut didn’t find success from behind the arc until three minutes into the third frame. The poor shooting cost them and they lost a tough one at home, in front of nearly 5,000.
The hosts did get the early lead, getting up 7:3 mid-way through the initial frame, but Bilbao shut them down for the rest of the quarter and came out with a 9:16 advantage. The hosts were able to hit the cords in other ways and outscored Bilbao in the second 10, 24:22, but were still down 33:38 at the intermission. From there Bilbao added three to the gap in each of the last two quarters, to come away with a key 11-point win on the road.
The win improves Uxue Bilbao to 13-8 and puts them in the middle of a four-club tie for the No. 3 spot in the Liga Endesa. They sit four games back of Caja Laboral and seven behind the league leader, Real Madrid. FIATC Joventut falls to 10-11 and tied with Blusens Monbus and UCAM Murcia CB for the No. 9 spot.
Alex Mumbru was top man for Bilbao with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Nikos Zisis and Adrien Moerman (6 assists) added 14 points each.
Albert Oliver was game-high with 17 points, Corey Fisher added 14 and Jordi Llovet dropped in 10.
Asefa Estudiantes – Unicaja, 82:68
Asefa Estudiantes got a big night from team and Liga Endesa scoring leader Carl Ingles and picked up win number 12 at the expense of Unicaja, who falls to 9-12 with the loss. Unicaja was so obsessed with stopped Ingles they changed their strategy and had Earl Calloway in foul trouble (4 personals) as the first half was coming to a close.
Asefa outscoring Unicaja in all four quarters leading up to the final buzzer with the score at 82:68.
The locals, playing in front of 8,400, took the advantage early and came out of the first quarter up 23:20. Asefa got 11 points from German Gabriel and 11 from Ingles in the first half, en route to a 10-point margin, 46:36. Andy Panko tallied 10 in the first half to help keep Unicaja within reach.
Coming out of the break the guests changed their strategy of focusing on Ingles and focused on the other important thing, scoring themselves. During the first four minutes they cut their deficit down to three with a 3:10 mini-scoring run. The positive effort was short-lived for Unicaja though, and Asefa stormed back to regain their cushion and add to it slightly to head into the last period up 63:52. There was no giving in for the hosts though and in the fourth the margin grew to 14 as the final buzzer sounding on an 82:68 victory.
Ingles’ 17 points was game-high for Asefa, Daniel Clark and German Gabriel added 13 each to the win. Both Panko and Txemi Urtasun dropped in 12 for Unicaja.
Real Madrid – Bàsquet Manresa, 104:70
Real Madrid, got off to a slow start, but then only needed a few minutes to let the arena know that they meant business and by the end of their Week 21 Liga Endesa contest with Basquet Manresa, they had amassed a 34-point win, 104:70. The win improves Madrid to 20-1, while dropping Manresa to 4-17 and tied for last place.
The guests got the first solid advantage of the day, moving to 6:10 after the first few minutes. Once Madrid got things moving, they were able to pull even at 14:15 with five minutes played, but then things got ugly for the guests and the home club, playing in front of just under 8,000, put in a scoring run of 20:4 to close out the first quarter up 34:19. They didn’t let up any in the second quarter, adding 18 the margin with a 29:11 quarter, making it 63:30 at the half. The second half was an opportunity for the benches to get some minutes and the two clubs split the quarters with Madrid winning the third frame 23:19 and Manresa taking the fourth 18:21.
Nikola Mirotic was game-high for Madrid with 23 points, 9 rebounds and an evaluation of 34. Jaycee Carroll added 14, Sergio Llull dropped in 11. Adam Hanga lead the guests with 15, Josh Asselin contributed 13, and Troy DeVries and Charles Ramsdell got 12 each.
FC Barcelona Regal – Mad-Croc Fuenlabrada, 72:70
Host FC Barcelona Regal presented the Copa del Rey Cup to their fans at the beginning of their match up with Mad-Croc Fuenlabrada, and then presented the 5,100 friendlies with a thrilled come-from-behind with that was capped off with a buzzer beater by Ante Tomic on his 26th birthday. The win improves Regal to 13-8 and in a tie with three other teams for the No. 3 spot. The loss drops Mac-Croc to 6-15 and 16th place.
Mad-Croc jumped out in front of Regal with a huge 15:28 first quarter, then were able to extend that lead to 17:33 a minute into the second frame. On the back of two 7:0 runs, Regal was able to cut the gap to 24:33, then shortly after do it again to bring the hosts within four, 33:37 at the half. A new scoring run, this time 10:2, gave Barcelona the lead for the first time, 43:42, mid-way through the third 10. Fuenlabrada earned the lead back three minutes into the fourth, 53:55. From there the clubs exchange baskets, until Kristaps Valters canned a three-ball with 5.5 seconds to play to knot the score at 70. Regal’s Xavi Rabaseda took the inbounds pass and drove the length of the court, penetrated just beyond the charity stripe, and pushed up an off balance shot that had him fall to the ground. The shot came up about three feet short, but Tomic, who was crashing to the hoop for a possible rebound, grabbed the ball and laid it in just before the buzzer sounded.
Tomic’s game-winner gave him 18 points and 8 rebounds on the night to lead Regal to the victory. Pete Mickeal add 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, and Alex Abrines dropped in 10.
Rob Kurz led the way for Mad-Croc with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. James Feldeine (7 assists) and Leo Mainoldi (6 rebounds) each added 14 points.
Herbalife Gran Canaria – UCAM Murcia CB, 68:78
UCAM Murcia CB earned a tough road win over Herbalife Gran Canaria, 68:78, to improve to 10-11, while their hosts fell to 13-8 and now in a tie with three other clubs for the No. 3 spot in the Liga Endesa.
UCAM was led by Joe Ragland’s 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists as they opened with a small lead and kept adding to it as the game progressed. The visitors opened the contest outscoring their hosts 15:16 in the first quarter, then giving up a small 7:2 scoring run to get down 22:18. Murcia countered with nine unanswered to get up 22:27, but Herbalife rallied and by the end of the half the guests led by a single point, 27:28. The second half belonged to UCAM, as they were able to add three points to their lead in the third and four more in the fourth.
Ragland’s 21 points was game-high for Murcia. Bernardo Rodriguez added 16, and Marcus Lewis contributed 11 points and 9 rebounds to the win. Ryan Toolson led Herbalife with 17 points, Brad Newley dropped in 16, Spencer Nelson contributed 11 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists.
Valencia Basket Club – CB Canarias, 105:85
Prior to Week 21 Valencia had lost four Liga Endesa contests in a row and had fallen from the No. 2 spot in the standings. After Sunday’s 105:85 victory over CB Canarias, Valencia is tied for third with three other clubs, while Canarias falls to 8-13 on the season.
Valencia put on a shooting exhibition for the 7,500 fans in attendance, connecting on 13 of 22 (59%) of their shots behind the arc, and 25 of 39 (64%) inside the arc. The second quarter defined the game as Valencia pulled away with a 13-point advantage in the quarter, to add to the five-point margin they got from the first frame. The clubs headed into the dressing rooms at the intermission with Valencia up 60:42. In the second half Valencia built an advantage peaked at 30 points, but in the final minutes Vitor Faverani dropped in three triples for Canarias to cut the margin to 20 as the buzzer sounded to end the contest.
Valencia’s balanced scored attack led to six players coming in with double figures: Faverani – 16; Rafa Martinez – 15; Thomas Kelati – 15; Bojan Dubjevic – 14;Justin Doellman – 13; and Pau Ribas – 12.
Canarias got 15 each from Blagota Sekulic and Levi Rost and 13 from Carles Bivia.
Cajasol – CAI Zaragoza, 67:75
CAI Zaragoza took to the road to square off with Cajasol on Sunday, and picked up their 12th Liga Endesa win in the process. The win improves CAI to 12-9 on the season and two games up on the ninth-place squad, which is the outer edge of the playoff zone, while Cajasol is two places up from the relegation zone at 7-14.
Zaragoza got out to a quick start, getting up on Cajasol 9:16 late in the first, only to give up a three-ball as time expired on the frame to take an 11:16 margin into the second. A 4:10 run early in the second extended the lead to 11 by mid-way through the second quarter, leading to a 29:43 margin at the half. As the third 10 started, CAI dropped in two quick buckets to push the gap to 18, but then Cajasol came alive with a 9:2 run, twice. By the time the horn sounded ending the frame, the hosts were only down four, 49:53 with one stanza left to put in the books. Cajasol was able to get within three at 63:66, but their guests controlled the end of the contest and pulled away to pick up the win, 67:75.
Sam Van Rossom and Pedro Llompart led CAI Zaragoza with 16 points each, Henk Norel dropped in 14 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. John Holland was game-high for Cajasol with 17 points, also adding 6 assists. Ondrej Blavin contributed 12 points and 8 rebounds, while turning in a performance worth an evaluation of 27.
Spain Liga Endesa Week 21
This Week’s Matches[matches league_id=4 match_day=21 template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]
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Next Week’s Matches[matches league_id=4 match_day=22 template=sumnoscore dateformat=”M. j, Y”]