Chris Jones delivers at the buzzer for Valencia in Athens

2023-02-10T22:20:22+00:00 2023-02-10T23:06:37+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

10/Feb/23 22:20

Better defense in the second half and Chris Jones connecting as time runs out lifts Valencia over Panathinaikos

By Eurohoops Team/

A buzzer-beating game-winning three-pointer by Chris Jones made all the difference in favor of Valencia in OAKA Altion.

Alex Mumbru’s side escaped with the win, 92-91, against Panathinaikos Friday.

“It really wasn’t what was designed. But since it worked, we can say that’s what we drew up,” confessed Jones shortly after deciding the winner of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 24 thriller.

Jones, 29, recorded 11 points down the stretch of the fourth quarter ending up with a team-high 24 points. He connected 8/10 from the field, including the game-winner. Five assists and four rebounds further built up a game-high PIR of 33.

“We came out and got stops in the second half, not as many as we wanted, but we locked in, got the stops we needed, and scored on the other end,” he wished to focus on the team effort in Athens.

Coming off a 16-point effort on Sunday, Kyle Alexander matched his personal best for the 2022-23 season with another 16-point showing, from the domestic to continental level. “I feel like I was doing my job to the best level I could,” said the Canadian big, “It was a great team win. I am just blessed to walk out of there with the win.”

Valencia trailed for the entire first half but quickly turned the tables on their hosts with an improved effort in defense after the break. Both sides exchanged blows until the final second of the exciting contest. By sweeping the two-game regular-season series and also securing a third straight win on the road, Valencia jumped to an overall record of 13-11.

“We made some stupid fouls in the last minute. They got a lot of free throws. Finally, we fought and got the win,” was the immediate reaction of head coach Mumbru.

The team coached by Dejan Radonjic was forced down to 8-16. Both Paris Lee and Arturas Gudaitis set respective season-highs at 25 and 23 points, respectively. In his Panathinaikos and EuroLeague debut, Matt Thomas followed with 13 points but missed a late free throw narrowing the potential three-point advantage to two points before Jones came up big at the opposite end.

“We missed a free throw and they made a three-pointer. It was the end of the game. So, they won,” mentioned the losing play-caller.

Missing pieces in Athens

Plenty of issues for the Greens, including captain Giorgos Papagiannis leading to Gudaitis expanding his role. The Greek center dealing with a left hamstring injury and Nate Wolters with an illness were late scratches joining Mateusz Ponitka (right ankle) on the list of unavailable players. Unregistered Nikos Pappas and Andrew Andrews are not part of the current plan.

Both nearing a return to action, Sam Van Rossom (right knee) and Martin Hermannsson (left knee) stayed on Valencia’s injury list. So did Millan Jimenez recovering from left ankle surgery in December. Captain Bojan Dubljevic has yet to be cleared after hurting his right ankle three weeks ago.

Cup week coming up

Up next for the Oranges is a chance to improve to 10-10 in Spain’s Liga Endesa taking on Gran Canaria at home Sunday. Instead of switching back to EuroLeague, they will move forward competing in Spain’s Copa del Rey over the one-week break.

Sitting second in Greece’s Basket League with a 12-2 record, Panathinaikos will play host to 7DAYS EuroCup outfit Promitheas Monday before the Final Eight of the domestic Cup.

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