Valencia bumps off Baskonia to retain playoff hopes

2021-04-08T23:02:16+00:00 2021-04-09T00:14:38+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

08/Apr/21 23:02

TD Systems Baskonia eliminated from the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague playoffs

By Eurohoops Team/

Valencia defeated TD Systems Baskonia, 86-81, in an extremely tight battle at La Fonteta on Thursday evening.

Derrick Williams went for a team-high 16 points in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 34 affair. The experienced forward made his way over the 1,000 point mark in Europe’s premier club competition during the first period.

Klemen Prepelic powered by a crazy three-point buzzer-beater to end the third quarter finished with 14 points. “I think that in the last couple of years, Valencia and Baskonia produced some kind of rivalry, but we came back and found a good team spirit at the end of the third quarter,” he reckoned, “Finally, we brought the win home. We believed until the end, this is sports.”

Mike Tobey had 13 points, including five down the stretch pushing his side towards the W. The remaining double-digit scorers, Nikola Kalinic finished with 12 and captain Bojan Dubljevic had 11 points alongside seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals.

“We made more stops than them and that is how you take wins in this league,” noted Williams, “At the end of the day, we want to take care of our side. If we didn’t win tonight, we are not talking about that, so we just want to keep going. At the end of the day, we are going to be watching and hopefully, it will be the best for us.”

The team coached by Jaume Ponsarnau improved to 19-15 but still needs Zenit Saint-Petersburg to drop at least one of its two remaining home games to seal a playoffs ticket. The Russian club can secure the spot with a couple of wins, over Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv on Friday and Panathinaikos OPAP on Monday.

“We finished the EuroLeague regular season. We will see if it is also the end of the EuroLeague season, which seems the most probable scenario: Real Madrid won and Zenit has two games which I think they will find the way to win them,” admitted the 49-year-old head coach, “We won 19 games in the EuroLeague and have to be very satisfied, but if we don’t make it to the playoffs, we will be disappointed because all the things we did were to get that goal.”

On the opposite end of the All-Spanish matchup, Baskonia down 18-16 was eliminated. Pierria Henry, a game-time decision, posted game-highs of 19 points and seven assists. Rokas Giedraitis generated 17 more points and Achille Polonara 16 points in the tough loss.

“First of all, it was a trip with these splendid players, a very beautiful one,” said Dusko Ivanovic, “We enjoyed it a lot and I honestly believe we deserve to be in the EuroLeague Playoffs. We couldn’t make it this season, but I want to congratulate my players because they gave everything they had. We played well and had very, very beautiful games. They showed their character and talent. I believe these players will play the EuroLeague Final Four, I am sure.”

Defenses took charge most of the way largely prevented double-digit leads from presenting themselves. Nine and seven points, respectively, were the largest distance as both sides failed to deliver the finishing punch and therefore setting up a back-and-forth last quarter and eventually a free throw challenge in the final seconds to determine the winner.

Both Valencia’s Louis Labeyrie and Baskonia’s Ilimane Diop fouled out midway through the fourth quarter before managing to generate one single point. Another big, Tonye Jekiri stayed on the guests’ injury list. Injured Martin Hermannsson did not play for the hosts.