The law of the strongest

Baskonia goes to the final after imposing a very physical rhythm in the second half for a Valencia reduced by Labeyrie's injury. Loyd had the triple winner, but failed.


Kirolbet Baskonia will face Barcelona next Tuesday in the Endesa League final. The baskonista team took the game to the physical from the initial jump. And Valencia held the stake until the end although it ended up giving way, reduced and exhausted. Still, the claw and the office of the Taronja team made him stay just one shot from the victory, the one that Loyd had, who tried the 'The Shoot' of Jordan against the Jazz but this time the hoop spat the ball, giving the pass to the final at Kirolbet Baskonia.

Without sounding like an excuse, one of the keys to the game was Labeyrie's injury. The Frenchman, the most physical player of all that Ponsarnau had at his disposal, was injured at the same moment that he had put the maximum income (+11) after shooting a triple. Until then, the French, Tobey and Doornekamp had been enough to stop the attacks of Shengelia and company, matching the muscular duel that Ivanovic posed. That was the beginning of the end of Valencia.

In attack, Baskonia was sustained by their Dragic-Shields-Shengelia trio, excelling the Slovenian (21 points and 25 valuation) that the team threw behind them at the worst moments. But his decisive point was defense. They stifled the tarons outside with a double purpose: to recover and run (20 losses from Valencia) and to suffocate in the final minutes. And they did it. San Emeterio and Loyd, in the penultimate attack and the American, in the last, did not hit the triple winner.

It was not quoted that the party was going to be physically. Already from the initial jump it was seen that the pass to the final was going to be there. That is what Baskonia plays, and very well. And Valencia was willing not to shy away from the stake. Labeyrie's inclusion in the quintet to pair with Shengelia was quite a statement of intent. Another thing is that at the beginning it turned out better or worse. Because the Georgian power forward scored 9 of his team's 12 points in the first quarter, all but Henry's starting triple. And this was more bad news than good news for Ivanovic. Meanwhile, in Valencia they were scoring all, up to six players in the initial act. It was a game of patience. And there San Emeterio has a plus. With him at the controls and the superiority in the painting of Tobey, Valencia was taking the first advantages. Two free of Tailor left him on 17-12, at the break.

The second period was opened by Polonara with a triple that Colom answered with a basket under the hoop, between a sea of arms. There began the gunfighters duel between Doornekamp and Dragic. The Canadian put the direct with eight points in a row (two triples). And a basket from Dubljevic (29-20, min. 14) completed the first arreon taronja. Ivanovic gave his defense a twist at the time and with the Slovenian in killer mode (eight consecutive points), he tightened the score again. However, the taronjas stepped on the accelerator again until they reached the maximum income (41-30, min. 18) that came with a triple from Labeyrie who was also injured in that play. Crucial play for the development of the semifinal. Dragic, to his own, put another triple and his point number 14 in the second act while the eyes focused on the Frenchman, writhing in pain, in the background. Dubljevic's free put 42-33, at halftime.

The runrún of Labeyrie's injury took Valencia in his mind to rest. Because from there came a much more timid and hesitant team. Instead, Baskonia was launched, again with Dragic commanding operations. The Taronjas only lost balls and fired bad shots, causing Baskonia to start running. Thus, a partial 0-8 put the Basques within range (42-41, min, 23) but a triple from Loyd's playground broke the local drought. However, the feeling now was that Baskonia dominated the game, unlike in the first half, and that Valencia was jerking. Two triples in the same play (Vildoza called for a foul on the rebound) of San Emeterio and Dubljevic made that, if you looked at the scoreboard, it seemed that nothing was happening (53-45, min. 25). But something was happening. It happened that Valencia were beginning to lack strength, with Van Rossom and Tobey (with three fouls) on the bench and San Emeterio on court but very suffocated by the Baskonia defense. Losses followed and Dragic and Shields generated play in the Vitoria. A basket by Vildoza gave the visitors an advantage for the first time (55-56), with 40 seconds to go until the end of the third act.

Inertia threw Ivanovic's group towards the final and Valencia survived as best they could on the scoreboard. Polonara put the maximum (57-63, min. 32). There, the Ponsaranau boys went down to the trench, there was no other, and two triples of Van Rossom and Marinkovic returned to equal the duel. Polonara, from the corner, punished three (63-66, min, 34). Ivanovic already had it clear. With Labeyrie out and Doornekamp and Tobey loaded with staff, it was time to play inside the area. And there was squatting Shengelia, who put the 70-72 with two free and took the fourth to the Canadian, with 3:38 left. Forces were running out at Valencia. Shields, with a triple over the possession horn in the face of San Emeterio gave Baskonia a significant income (70-75) with 2:45 left. Those of Ivanovic suffocated Van Rossom who lost two balls in a row. It was almost a match ball. But this Valencia is hard to peel. Loyd forced an attack foul and San Emeterio put it inside from 6.75. 73-75 with 1:18 to go. The duel was on the wire. Shengelia missed two free just one minute from the end and Valencia had a shot to tie or get on top. Specifically two. San Emeterio and Loyd missed their triples but Doornekamp forced an attack foul on Shengelia with 18 seconds to go. Loyd had the final triple on the horn but did not enter. And Baskonia will be Barça's rival in the final.



Photos from as.com
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