Joventut Badalona's tale of two halves in a 54-68 road win at ratiopharm Ulm on Wednesday was the same tale for Simon Birgander, its 25-year-old center.
Birgander lasted all of 4 minutes in the first half, getting 3 quick fouls and a ride on the bench as Ulm took a 35-30 halftime lead. He missed his only shot, committed a turnover, but took a rebound and blocked a shot.
"The first half was pretty rough for me," Birgander confessed after the game.
Birgander said he was surprised to start the second half, but came back well-rested and ready for action.
He began by ripping rebounds, blocking another shot and scoring Joventut's first basket. But he was just getting started. With 2 more blocks, he anchored a defense that held Ulm to 2 points in the first 8 minutes of the third quarter, during which time Birgander collected 7 points and 7 rebounds as Joventut zoomed in front 37-46.