KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz rallied from a 17-point deficit over 11 minutes to edge the visiting ALBA Berlin 73-72 in a thrilling fashion at home on Friday. Baskonia trailed for almost 30 minutes and was behind 39-56 in the final minute of the third quarter, only to put together a 17-0 run and tie the score early in the fourth. But ALBA never allowed Baskonia to take the lead until Matt Janning hit what turned out to be a game-winning three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left. ALBA still had one final possession, but Tornike Shengelia rose high to block Luke Sikma's attempt and start a big celebration at Buesa Arena.
Janning, Shengelia complete Baskonia's thrilling comeback, 73-72
Shengelia was everywhere and finished with 24 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals to lead Baskonia. Semaj Christon scored 14 points, Ilimane Diop added 11, and Janning finished with 10 in a victory that lifted Baskonia into a five-team tie for the ninth-best record, 12-16. Marcus Eriksson netted 16 points for ALBA and Niels Giffey had 14 in the losing effort. ALBA dropped to 9-19 and is all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff race.
Sikma had a pair of baskets and an assist and Eriksson hit an early transition triple for the visitors. On the other end, Shengelia single-handedly carried Baskonia, scoring all of its points in a 9-9 tie, including a monster dunk and a three-pointer. Diop and Christon joined the fun for the hosts, but Martin Hermannsson and Jonas Mattisseck each hit a triple to make it 15-15 at the end of the first quarter. In the next 3 minutes, Kenneth Ogbe hit 1 three-pointer, Johannes Thiemann nailed his back-to-back, and Giffey joined the three-point party to help ALBA open a 19-29 advantage. Baskonia responded with an 8-0 run that Michael Eric started with a basket-plus-free throw and Achille Polonara continued with a transition triple. However, Sikma from close range and Eriksson from long range had ALBA quickly back to a 27-35 advantage. Soon, a pair of layups from 18-year old Malte Delow gave ALBA a 29-39 edge at halftime.
Baskonia opened the second half with a 6-0 run, but Sikma's triple sparked a 0-12 ALBA response, capped by a three-pointer from Eriksson for 35-51 margin. Baskonia was without a basket for more than 4 minutes before Shengelia and Diop scored in close, but Mattisseck banked a triple to beat the shot clock and make it 39-56. Diop scored the last 5 points of the third quarter and Baskonia opened the fourth with an 11-0 run fueled by Shengelia. Janning hit a triple and served Pierria Henry for a fastbreak layup to tie it at 59-59. Giffey snapped ALBA's drought and Eriksson added 7 points, including a triple and baseline floater, to put ALBA back in front at 64-70. However, Shengelia rose up with 2 more baskets to tie it at 70-70 entering the final minute. Giffey made free throws, and after a missed possession by each team, Janning knocked down the game-winning triple with 3.2 seconds left. ALBA had one last chance, Sikma got free near the rim, but Shengelia blocked his attempt in the last second to save Baskonia's one-point advantage.
Playing from behind
After five lead changes in the opening minutes, Baskonia did not have a single lead for more than 30 minutes until the game's final 10 seconds, when Matt Janning hit the game-winning three-pointer.
Apart from the final blocked shot, Tornike Shengelia was Baskonia's driving force. He scored the first 9 Baskonia points of the game. It took 7 minutes and 45 seconds for another Baskonia players to put the ball through the rim. Shengelia also had 11 points in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback.
Baskonia overcame a big shooting night by ALBA, which went 13-for-28 from long range, compared to Baskonia's 4-for-15. But Baskonia forced 18 turnovers and made 25 of 45 two-point shots, while the visitors were just 14 of 29 for two.
Dusko Ivanovic, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
"Before the game we knew clearly, if we play 40 minutes aggressively, with contact, good defense, we will have a possibility to win. In the first 20 minutes, we did not play like that. We left them many options for three-point shots, easy combinations, easy baskets in the low post. In the second half, we played more aggressively. And I think it was our faith; we believed we can win. But in the next game, our belief will not be enough. We need to play strong for 40 minutes. Tonight we had identity and pride."
Aito Garcia Reneses, ALBA Berlin
"When evaluating the game, the most important part is that in the fourth quarter we wanted to [give it away] to Baskonia. Playing without energy has been our problem, and essentially we just gave the game to them. I imagine Baskonia will say 'Thank you very much'."
Matt Janning, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
"It is a very important triple. For me personally, I haven't shot the ball great this year but that is an important one. And just for us as a team. We are up and down, up and down. The last week we played really well, today we didn't play well, we really didn't deserve to win until the last 12 minutes of the game. But we will take it. We need to stay alive in a playoff race; it is an important win for us. We need to win all the games remaining. You got to try to leave no doubt. If we lose one it can leave us in a bad spot. We need to try to work our asses off and try to win all of them."
Tornike Shengelia, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
"Before the block, we came back from down 14, 15 points, I think. I am so so proud of my teammates. Words can't describe how proud I am of my teammates, my coaches and all these fans. Like I said before, we are still alive, we are still going to fight for this playoff spot. Thank God, we got this win done on our home court. We are going to celebrate tonight and from tomorrow think about our next game."