Spain Liga Endesa: Four remain undefeated

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Liga Endesa

They’ve finished Week 3 in Spain’s Liga Endesa and four clubs have made it through with unblemished records. Sitting on the top of the league are Real Madrid, Herbalife Gran Canaria, Canary CB, and FC Barcelona Regal with 3-0 records. On the other end of the standings are the winless clubs Rio Natura Monbus, Bilbao Baskets, and Cajasol.

Unicaja – Valencia Basket Club, 71:74
Valencia Basket Club knocked Unicaja from the ranks of the undefeated with a 71:74 win on the road. The win bumped Valencia to an equal 2-1 record with Unicaja, one game out of the top spot.

The guests got out to a 2:7 advantage, only to have Unicaja go on a 14:2 run. By the time the first 10 was completed, Valencia had regained the lead, 21:22. Valencia kept the pressure on in the second and opened up a 10-point lead, 36:46, by the time they got to the mid-game break behind 15 points in the half by Romain Sato. The clubs battled to a 14-all tie in the third to set up the final frame with Valencia still up by 10, 50:60. Unicaja cut the margin to six with three minutes to play, then were able to pull to within two, 69:71 with under a minute to play. Shortly after they pulled to with a point, 71:72, but a pair of singles for Valencia by Justin Doellman closed the scoring as Jayson Granger missed a final triple attempt that would have tied the score.

Sato was game-high for Valencia with 25 points and 9 rebounds, Sam Van Rossom added 12 points, and Doellman scored 11 with adding 7 rebounds.

Granger dropped 19 for Unicaja, Nick Caner-Medley scored 13, and Zoran Dragic added 11.

Bilbao Baskets – Herbalife Gran Canaria, 72:83
Herbalife improved their record to 3-0, while dropping Bilbao to 0-3 with a 72:83 road win for Herbalife. Nacho Martin turned in a huge performance for Herbalife scoring 30 points on 11 of 12 shooting from the floor and 5 of 5 from the line. The effort earned Martin an evaluation of 40 for the game. Bilbao got 23 points from German Gabriel.

Bilbao got the initial advantage with a 7:0 run that opened the contest. Herbalife closed out the first quarter with a 0:6 run that gave them a 16:20 margin. The clubs went nearly scoreless over a five minute stretch, but made up for it over the last five minutes as the guests outscored Bilbao 14:16 in the second 10 to close out the half up 30:36. The third quarter was a scoring exhibition with Herbalife winning the frame 21:30, which included a 0:13 run, to head into the final frame with the lead at 51:66. The lead grew to 18 as the fourth quarter started, which is when the Bilbao comeback began. Over the next six minutes the hosts went on a 15:5 scoring run to cut the margin to five, 66:72. With just over a minute to play they were only down by four at 72:76, but that’s as close as they could come as Herbalife would tally the final seven points to finish with the 72:83 win.

Martin’s 30 points and 7 rebounds was game-high for Herbalife, Brad Newley and Xavi Rey scored 12 points each.

Gabriel’s 23 led Bilbao, Dairis Bertans added 13, Alex Mumbru scored 12, and Axel Hervelle 10.

Rio Natura Monbus – CAI Zaragoza, 82:86
CAI Zaragoza hung on and survived a late rally by host club Rio Natura Monbus to improve to 2-1 on the season. Monbus stays at the bottom of the standings at 0-3. Jon Steffanson scored 28 for CAI, including going 8 for 8 from the line and 6 for 9 behind the arc.

Other than scoring the first point of the contest on a free throw, Rio Natura Monbus never led in the game, while CAI came out of the first frame with a small 15:19 lead. In the second, Steffanson paced Zaragoza with 10 points on their way to a 19:27 score, putting them up 34:46 at the half. The hosts used a 10:0 run in the early part of the third to bridge the gap and set up the fourth quarter with a 60:65 advantage for CAI. Monbus opened the margin back up to 12 by the mid-point of the fourth, but Monbus got things rolling and were able to pull to within three with just over a minute to play. Steffanson put the game on ice in the final stretch by connecting on four of four from the line.

Steffanson was game-high for CAI with 28 points and an evaluation of 34, Viktor Sanikidze added 14, and Giorgi Shermandini scored 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.

Mike Muscala paced Monbus with 19 points, including connecting on 13 of 14 from the line), and hauled in 7 rebounds. Mario Delas scored 14, and Benjamin Dewar tallied 11.

La Bruixa d’Or – FC Barcelona, 71:81
In a battle of unbeaten teams, FC Barcelona came out with a still unblemished record at 3-0, while La Bruixa d’Or fell to 2-1 after a 71:81 defeat at home. Barça got 20 points and 8 rebounds from Ante Tomic, while the hosts got 19 points from Dominic Waters.

Barcelona took the lead early in a contest that started very evenly with the clubs trading hoops constantly. Mid-way through the first frame Josh Asselin entered the game for La Bruixa and promptly dropped six straight points to put his club up 14:12 with three minutes left in the period. Barça got consecutive triples to go up four, before closing out the frame up two, 18:20. The guests got off to a quick start in the second, running off eight unanswered to get up 10, 18:28. As the quarter progressed they extended to 13 points, 22:35, but as the half ended La Bruixa had pulled to within eight, 34:42. The hosts pulled to within four after the third 10, 56:60, but Barça pulled away again early in fourth. La Bruixa didn’t give up and was able to get to just three down, 71:74, with just two minutes to play. Unfortunately, that would be the last points they’d score as Barcelona would tally the final seven to give them a 10-point win and keep their record unblemished.

Tomic was game-high with 20 points and 8 rebounds, Maciej Lampe aded 10, and Mario Herzonja just missed a double-double scoring 8 while grabbing 11 rebounds.

Waters led the hosts with 19, Asselin dropped in 14, and Alex Hernandez scored 11.

UCAM Murcia – Real Madrid, 81:88
Real Madrid stayed with the lead group at 3-0 on the season with a hard fought 81:88 road win over UCAM Murcia, who falls to 1-2. Rudy Fernandez lead the way for Madrid with 22 points, while Kim Tillie was game-high for Murcia with a 23P/11R double-double.

Fernandez helped Madrid’s cause in the first 10 by dropping nine, but Murcia was able to come out of the frame with a one-point advantage, 20:19. The hosts were able to extend their lead in the second to seven, 40:33, behind 13 from Waters in just 11 minutes in the first half. Sergio Llull knocked down a triple for Madrid with just seconds to play in the half, knotting the score at 45, but Jose Angle Antelo countered with a buzzer-beating three-ball to give the hosts a three point lead as they headed to the dressing rooms for their mid-game intermission. Antelo hit the first five points of the second half to put Murcia up 53:45, but Madrid then ran off 13 unanswered to get up 53:58. The margin remained five until the end of the frame, with Madrid up 62:67. Again Murcia took control early, this time drawing even at 71 with six minutes to play. From there it was all Madrid as they scored the next 12 points of the contest, an advantage that Murcia couldn’t counter, falling 81:88 in the end.

Fernandez’s 22 points led Madrid and gave him a 29 evaluation for the game. Nikola Mirotic added 19 points and 7 rebounds, Llull contributed 13, and Jaycee Carroll scored 10.

Tillie’s 23P/10R double-double paced Murcia, Antelo added 12 points and 9 rebounds, and Rodriquez scored 10.

Laboral Kutxa – Estudiantes, 79:66
Laboral Kutxa earned their first victory of the 2013-14 Liga Endesa with a 79:66 win at home over Estudiantes. The loss drops Estudiantes to an equal 1-2. Laboral got 22 points and 6 rebounds from Andres Nocioni.

The hosts dominated the contest in the first 10, getting up by as many as 16, before Estudiantes ran off seven straight to final the first 10 down 20:11. In the second Laboral tallied the first six, but with the score 26:12, the guests put together an 11-point run that pulled them to within three, 26:23 with three minutes to play in the half. They traded baskets through the end of the half, but Laboral taking a 34:28 advantage into the mid-game break. A 20:4 run by the hosts to open the second half put them up 22, 54:32. The third frame ended with Laboral up 17, 62:45. Estudiantes tallied the first seven of the fourth to pull to within 10, 62:52, but that was as close as they’d get through the rest of the quarter and Laboral had their first win of the season.

Nocioni led the way with 22 for Laboral and Illimane Diop added 10.

Andres Miso scored 11 for Estudiantes, while Jaime Fernandez added 10.

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