Dexia Mons-Hainaut will face Barons LMT in the 2008 edition of the EuroCup finals after eliminating local favorites Proteas EKO AEL in the second semi-finals 70-55 on Friday night in Limassol, Cyprus.
Dexia controlled the game from the first minutes and never allowed Proteas to make a run and put their lead in danger.
The local fans, who filled the Spyros Kyprianou arena and created a great Yellow atmosphere to push their team to the finals, saw Dexia take over the game right from the start and didn't allow the fans to get involved.
|Ryan Randle provided what little scoring punch Proteas could manage with 13 points. |
Dexia's Ben Ebong stepped up with a big game of 24 points, including 18 in the first half.
Travis Conlon showed an all around game with 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in a key performance.
"I'm not very young and I'm only getting older, like other players on this team," confessed Conlon after the game.
"Coming here we knew this might be the last chance for some of us to win such a title."
Guard Duane Woodward was the top scorer for Proteas with 16 points, while Maxime Zianveni had a 10 points and 10 rebounds double-double, but that wasn't enough to challenge Dexia's big defense.
"My players' concentration level was so high today that I really want to give them a lot of credit. It makes it easy to coach this way," said coach Chris Finch of the winning side.
Proteas suffered from a terrible shooting night especially from long range, where it hit only a single three-pointer out of 13 attempts in the first 37 minutes. That effected their inside game as well, where they hit only 41.5%
"They played very well on defense. They defended hard and made us take tough shots almost in every play." said Proteas' coach Charles Barton.
Woodward put Proteas on top 2-0 but that was also their last lead of the night. When the game was tied at 4-4 Ebong took over, and scored seven points in a row in a 9-0 run.
From that point on there was only one team on the court. Dexia finished the first quarter with a 21-12 lead, which stayed alive for the vast majority of the second quarter.
Ebong hit his second three-pointer of the night, after not connecting on a single one the whole season, as Dexia took a 13 point lead going into the half, 41-28.
Proteas failed again and again to make a run that would put them back in the game. The closest they came was an eight point deficit, 45-37, midway through the third quarter.
Then came a scoring drought on both sides, and for almost three minutes no points were registered on the board.
Not surprising at all was the fact Ebong broke that drought, and made it a double-digit lead again, on the way to a 50-41 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Proteas' star Miultin Aleksic struggled from the first minute. Until very late in the game he had just a single point on the board.
One of the main reasons for this poor performance was a great defensive job made by Andrew Sullivan.
"We brought Sullivan to the team to be that type of defender. We knew Aleksic was going to be their main man, so we wanted to make his life as difficult as possible and make him take only difficult shots," admitted coach Finch.
Proteas made one last effort and cut the lead to 11, but saw Dexia reply with five points in a row that shut down the locals' chances.