Pau Ribas and youngsters Michael Ruzic and Ruben Prey came up big for Joventut.
Homegrown talents rescued Joventut
Joventut Badalona came into its Round 9 game against Prometey Slobozhanske on a dangerous three-game losing streak. It turned things around to edged Prometey 79-76 by relying on its homegrown players.
Prometey led all the way in the first half and held a 35-46 margin early in the third quarter before a 15-0 run allowed Joventut to take the lead, 50-46. Pau Ribas, who first joined Joventut at age 4, was the catalyst of Joventut's comeback, burying three consecutive three-pointers and finding Michael Ruzic for a fastbreak layup. From that moment onwards, it was a very different game.
Once again, young talents stepped up for Coach Carles Duran's team. Ruzic finished the game with 9 points, 4 rebounds and a PIR of 11. Center Ruben Prey ended up playing 15 minutes and posting 7 points and 6 rebounds for a PIR of 13.
Both of them did well at the end of the game, leading Joventut's defense and hitting critical shots. Ruzic buried the go-ahead free throws, 77-76, with 1:21 left, and Prey sealed Joventut's win with a fastbreak slam with just 3 seconds remaining.
Ribas scored all of his 14 points in the third quarter, in which Joventut outscored Prometey 29-20.
"I am happy because our young guys stepped up, especially inside players, that is more difficult, physically, for them," Ribas said after the game. "They changed the rhythm of the game, they changed our defense and we could come back in the third quarter and win this game."
Asked about his third-quarter heroics, Ribas joked a bit. "I am a veteran, not young anymore! But my job is to try to help the team win. I could do it tonight, and I am happy."
"With Ruben [Prey] and Michael [Ruzic], the team played very, very well. Not only on offense: they tried to play very good defense," Coach Duran said after the game. "It is very difficult to guard Balvin but them, being 17 and 18 years old, played an amazing game."
Joventut reached the regular season's halfway mark with a 4-5 record and plays six of its remaining nine games on the road. Young players and well-rounded veterans who bleed green and white should have plenty of opportunities as they try to to lead Joventut back to the playoffs.