ANDhe Herbalife Gran Canaria celebrated its recent qualification for the Eurocup semifinals with a brilliant 78-99 victory over Baskonia in Vitoria. The Canaries dominated the match from start to finish, winning all sets and showing great balance in all facets of the game. Andrew Albicy had a sensational performance with 24 points and 6 assists, beating Vildoza and Henry with authority. The Frenchman was fantastically accompanied by Okoye in the first period, Costello in the second, and Kilpatrick throughout the second half.
With an Okoye unleashed in attack, Gran Canaria was the one who entered the game the most in tone. The Nigerian nailed three of his first four triple attempts to accumulate 11 points in just six minutes, enough for Fisac’s men to build a solid 11-point lead (9-20, min.7). The entrance to the court by Diop, Dragic and Henry revived the Baskonia defense and gave their attack more aggressiveness. Thus, and from the free kick, the locals gradually reduced the disadvantage to just 3 points, although a final triple by Albicy aborted the comeback and kept the Canaries in command (18-24) at the end of the first quarter.
Henry tried to take over for Vitoria at the beginning of the second period. But his points and another 5 from Sedekerskis were nothing more than fireworks that dissipated in a jiffy. Gran Canaria was entrusted to Matt Costello, who made the most of the absence of centimeters in the local paint to punish the baskonista rim time and time again. The yellow advantage reached a top of 12 points midway through the quarter (29-41) after a basket from Kilpatrick, and although Polonara appeared momentarily with a triple and a layup on counterattack, Baskonia did not manage to snatch the steering wheel from the Canaries. Ivanovic tried to find energy in his youngsters, but neither Raieste nor Kurucs contributed more than their teammates had. Okoye and Shurna closed the game at halftime with a comfortable 36-47 for the yellows.
The break gave way to an exchange of baskets that benefited Gran Canaria. Giedraitis tried to get into the game, but the visitors were able to stop the sporadic sparks of Baskonia with balance, patience and good circulation in attack, but above all with a fair distribution of the score, thanks to the trio formed by Okoye, Costello and, especially, Albicy. The French guard dominated his peers in such a way that the Baskonia ended up dispensing with Henry and Vildoza to give the helm to Kurucs. The appearance of Kilpatrick in the last minutes of the quarter provided even more gunpowder to the Canaries, who came to caress the score of advantage after 30 minutes (56-75).
In case anyone still had doubts about the yellow victory, Kilpatrick was in charge of dispelling them with 8 consecutive points as soon as the last quarter started, definitely shooting his own (58-81, min.32). Shurna’s 3-pointer from the corner lifted the visitors lead to a crushing 60-88 with many minutes still to go. The locals took advantage of a brief moment of success by Henry to cut the advantage somewhat, but the momentum was no more than a slight make-up that neither concealed nor prevented the overwhelming final victory of Herbalife (78-99).
78 – TD Systems Baskonia (18 + 18 + 20 + 22): Vildoza (-), Giedraitis (7), Peters (11), Polonara (11) and Fall (4) -starting five-, Raieste (-), Henry (18), Sedekerskis (11), I. Diop (5) , Dragic (8) and Kurucs (3).
99 – Herbalife Gran Canaria (24 + 23 + 28 + 24): Albicy (24), Okoye (15), Beirán (6), Shurna (7) and K. Diop (2) -starting five-, Kilpatrick (20), Costello (17), Dimsa (-), Balcerowski (1) and Stevic (2).
Referees: Daniel Hierrezuelo, Francisco Araña and Iyán González. Jean Montero was eliminated for personal fouls (min. 35). They pointed out technique to visiting coach Porfi Fisac, player Matt Costello, local coach Dusko Ivanovic and player Rokas Giedraitis.
Incidents: Meeting corresponding to the twenty-eighth day of the Endesa League played without an audience at the Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria.
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