A hurricane named Nicolás Laprovittola spent Friday in Madrid to take the lead to Baskonia and put Joventut (89-98) in the semifinals. The Argentine base made 36 points and 50 of valuation (record in the tournament) in a memorable performance in the best showcase, the one in the Cup, with all eyes of basketball put on him. The Baskonia, who started as clear favorite, never knew how to stop the top scorer of the League, that if not scored, forced a foul, or attended or stole a ball. A museum work the party of Laprovittola, who came last year to a club on the verge of disappearance and that under his leadership he is now fighting to get into a final.
The Joventut came out as the one who has little to lose, and released from that pressure played as in the schoolyard. La Penya scored almost every attack against the frosty defense of Baskonia. Harangody sported his strange-but effective-outside throw, Todorovic was the master of the area and Laprovittola made himself, that is, scored, passed, led … With all that, the difference skyrocketed when there was little of the first quarter (13-29) to the perplexity of the pavilion.
The always boisterous fans of the Baskonia pulled a charanga to cheer on theirs, who were being overwhelmed by a rival who got 80% of what he threw and penalized by the numerous turnovers. The three-pointers of Janning gave some air, but Perasovic needed to activate the defense of his players, nonexistent until then. When he did, the Joventut advantage faded. A partial of 14-2 coincided with the rest of Laprovittola, and when the Argentine base returned to the track, his team already lost (34-33, 16).
Carles Duran did not want to wait any longer to get his star. The aspirations of Joventut were to squeeze their leader. As long as Laprovittola held up, the green team could face a team that had awakened and, guided by the baton of Marcelinho and the power of Poirier, threatened to continue with the inertia achieved with the comeback. With the Argentine on track – he finished the first part with 14 points -, Penya felt happy again and hit another small stretch on the edge of the break (36-41) with Todorovic and Harangody struggling against the Baskonista towers.
Baskonia: Vildoza (16), Janning (18), Shields (4), Voigtmann (6) and Poirier (15) -quintet initial-; Hilliard (10), Marcelinho (8), Diop (-), Jones (12) and González (-).
Joventut: Laprovittola (36), Ventura (-), López-Arostegui (7), Harangody (15) and Todorovic (15) -quintet initial-; Dimitrijevic (6), Morgan (10), Delía (4), Mathias (4), Parra (-) and Nogués (1).
Referees: Jiménez, Peruga and Caballero. Eliminated Hilliard and Todorovic for personal fouls.
WiZink Center: 12,340 spectators.
The beginning of the third quarter became a duel between Poirier and Todorovic. The two biggest of each team did not skimp on each other, neither in struggle under the hoops, nor in points. In the give and take the marker entered a carrousel of alternations until the new appearance of Laprovittola. Well guarded on the outside, the Argentine chose to look for the basket with penetrations and sometimes took a foul and another achieved improbable baskets. The game was what dictated the base of Joventut (49-57, m. 25) and Baskonia was going to have to sweat each basket. Hilliard and Jones joined Janning and Poirier to restore the balance to a shock that was starting to get cardiac.
The end of that third period was an exhibition of Laprovittola, with incredible triples and sowing terror in the defense of the Vitorian team. His 14 points in those 10 minutes put Joventut in the position of getting into the semifinals while in the stands it sounded "MVP, MVP …". When the Argentine was 30, Duran gave him another break, barely a minute, but that was enough for Penya's lead to go from eight (73-81) to three points (80-83) with five minutes to play.
The Baskonia also has an Argentine base, Vildoza, who had not made much noise until then, but woke up with a pair of triples and several actions in speed that relocated his team. But if Laprovittola was on the court, Joventut could feel calm because all actions ended with him in the free throw line or with an assist for a clear triple. The Baskonia could not help but surrender to the evidence, and it was evident that nothing and no one could stop Laprovittola.