Huertas's late heroics lead Baskonia past Milan
In a thriller that went down to the wire, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz grabbed his ninth win in the by edging AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 80-75 at Fernando Buesa Arena on Friday. Baskonia improved to 9-10 in the standings and entered playoffs territory, as it ranks 8th overall. Milan dropped to 8-11 and is now 9th in the standings. Vincent Poirier led the winners with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Marcelinho Huertas added 13 points, Shavon Shields had 12, Johannes Voigtmann 11 and 10 rebounds while Luca Vildoza dished 12 assists for Baskonia. Mike James led Milan with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Huertas hit a jumper and fed Matt Janning for a corner triple that gave Baskonia a 5-2 lead. James sank a fallaway jumper that Matt Janning bettered with a three-pointer. James and Vladimir Micov fueled an 0-8 run that gave Milan its first lead, 10-12. Jeff Brooks swished a jumper, Dairis Bertans struck from downtown and James downed a mid-range shot for a 16-21 Milan lead after 10 minutes. Shields scored twice around the basket early in the second quarter but Andrea Cinciarini and Arturas Gudaitis kept Milan in charge, 20-27. Voigtmann hit a triple and fed Poirier for a jump hook but three-pointers by Curtis Jerrells and Mindaugas Kuzminskas made Baskonia call timeout 25-33. Vildoza nailed a three-pointer but Gudaitis and a red hot Kuzminskas restored a 32-41 Milan edge, and an unstoppable James struck twice from beyond the arc, before Shields and Darrun Hilliard brought Baskonia within 42-49 at halftime. Poirier and Voigtmann made it a three-point game, 46-49, right after the break. Gudaitis dunked but a layup by Poirier and a huge slam by Voigtmann made it a one-point game, 50-51. Shields made a three-pointer and Vildoza completed Baskonia's comeback, 56-55. Shields and Jerrells traded driving layups and Huertas scored in the low post for a 62-59 Baskonia lead. Hilliard took over with an acrobatic shot early in the fourth quarter but Cinciarini quickly answered with a layup. Ilimane Diop scored twice to make it a seven-point game, 68-61, with 6 minutes left. Micov hit a floater and a three-pointer by James made Baskonia call timeout, 68-66. Voigtmann scored around the basket, Cinciarini split free throws and a layup by James got Milan even closer, 70-69. Poirier ignited the crowd with consecutive dunks and Huertas hit his trademark floater but James kept the guests within 76-74 with 40.4 seconds to go. But Huertas hit foul shots and added a layup to seal the outcome.
Vincent Poirier was really effective in the paint, finishing the game with 17 points on 8-of-10 two-point shots. He added 8 rebounds - 3 on the offensive end - 3 assists and a block for a PIR of 26. Moreover, he limited Arturas Gudaitis to just 9 points, 5 rebounds and a PIR of 6. Poirier definitely won the battle in the paint.
Milan never gave up and managed to get within 76-74 with 40.4 seconds to go. With Baskonia in need of a go-to guy, Marcelinho Huertas drew a foul and calmly made free throws. When Mike James went 1-of-3 from the foul line, Huertas was smart enough to race downcourt and get an easy layup that sealed the outcome.
Milan scored 49 points before halftime but just 26 after the break. The guests hit 7-of-13 three-point shots (53.9%) in the first half, but once Baskonia made adjustments, Milan converted just 1-of-8 shots from downtown (12.5%) in the final 20 minutes.
Did you notice?
Not only Baskonia did get the win, but also took the tie-break advantage in case both teams tie at the end of the regular season. Milan registered a 93-90 home win in Round 8, but a three-pointer by Baskonia’s Matt Janning with 2 seconds left in that game, and Huertas's final basket tonight, allowed Baskonia to get the tie-breaker.
Milan hosts Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday in a rematch of the 1998 Saporta Cup Championship Game. A day later, Baskonia visits Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul.
Friday, January 18, 2019