ANDhe Bitci Baskonia returned to activity at the Buesa Arena with a comfortable victory against Casademont Zaragoza, whom they defeated 91-59 on Saturday afternoon. The hands started well, taking the lead 2-6 at the start of the duel, but as soon as Baskonia found the defensive tone, Sakota’s men melted like sugar in a glass of water. The 18 skillful turnovers -converted into 11 steals from Vitoria-, the difference in rebounds (42 to 28) and the contrast in the outside success (12 local triples for 2 visitors), translated into comfortable Baskonia advantages that reached 20 ahead before the break and were capped at 35 shortly before the final whistle.
The visitors took command at the start of the game supported by Hlinason’s size in the paint, against a thick Baskonia without spark in attack (2-6, min.3). A triple by Giedraitis would wake up the Vitorians, pushing them to a 10-0 run that caused Sakota’s first timeout (12-6, min.6). The azulgranas continued to be sweet with triples from Peters and Fontecchio, extending the advantage to double figures (18-8). Thompson and Kilpatrick reacted for the hands, thus being able to reach the end of the quarter only 7 points behind (209-13).
The match entered a period of exchanging baskets that allowed Spahija’s men to maintain their advantage without too many difficulties. Giedraitis took the reins in attack and defense, well complemented by Matt Costello, while on the other side only Kilpatrick, scorer of 9 points and the first triple from Zaragoza, was capable of maintaining the type (33-24, min.15 ). The lack of help from other teammates, added to the turnovers and their inferiority in rebounding, drowned out the visitors, victims of another devastating 13-0 partial from Álava that broke up the match (46-24, min. 18) and took him to the break with a clear 46-29.
Fontecchio gives the definitive growth spurt
A three-pointer and a dunk from Fontecchio restored Baskonia’s twenty-point lead in just two minutes after the break (51-31, min. 22). However, the Casademont refused to drop. Led by a more active and successful attacking Boone, the visitors managed to bail out some water and get closer, 53-40, midway through the third period. The free throw and several consecutive steals allowed Baskonia to stop the comeback and recover an important cushion (64-41, min. 28) that Fontecchio would leave in a 71-47 at the end of the third period.
The bleeding did not stop at the start of the last chapter. A triple by Marinkovic placed a blushing 78 to 49 in the light, dispelling any doubt about a possible miracle. 4 solitary points, 2 from Thompson and others from Mekowulu were the only offensive performance of the Zaragoza players in the first 6 minutes, which Spahija took advantage of to give minutes to the less usual, using the 12 available players. A 2+1 from Sedekerskis would put a maximum of +35 (88-53) for the Vitorians, who would end the clash with three youth squads -Kurucs, Sedekerskis, Raieste-, a newcomer -Wetzell- and Granger,
91 – Bitci Baskonia (20+26+25+20): Baldwin (2), Giedraitis (14), Fontecchio (19), Peters (8) and Enoch (15)-starting five-, Raieste (-), Granger (3), Marinkovic (7), Wetzell (-), Costello (15), Sedekerskis (3) and Kurucs (2).
59 – Casademont Zaragoza (13+16+18+12): Jordan Bone (9), San Miguel (0), Santi Yusta (5), Radoncic (7) and Hlinason (8) -initial five-, Ferrari (1), Cook (-), Kilpatrick (11), Thompson (9 ), Mekowulu (6), Font (-) and Waczynski (2).
Referees: Juan Carlos García González, Rafael Serrano and Raúl Zamorano. Without eliminated.
Incidents: match corresponding to the thirty-second round of the Endesa League played at the Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria before 6,916 fans. Indar Baskonia gave up watching the game and left the stands in the second quarter after a fan was expelled from the stands for sticking a sticker on the pavilion’s access door.