| ||To say Yarone Arbel likes basketball would be an understatement of epic proportions. He eats, sleeps and breathes it and gives his EuroChallenge impressions every week in By The Numbers. |
The EuroChallenge has new kings in the form of BG Gottingen, who left very little doubt on who's the best team in the competition. In front of thousands of their fans the team of Coach John Patrick brought a historical European title to the club.
This was the third match between the new champs and the runner ups of Krasnye Krylia, and the facts say Gottingen won that unofficial series 2-1 but after losing in overtime in Russia and avenging with a 21 point win in the second leg the finals was just an official stamp on who's the best team in the 2010 edition of the EuroChallenge. Here are the numbers that tell the story of the big final day.
22: In the next edition of the German dictionary, if you look under "Stepping up" there is a good chance Christopher McNaughton will appear there. The US naturalized big guy almost doubled his season high in the EuroChallenge and if you count the German league games as well you reach a total of 46 games in which he scored only once over 20 points, while in 33 of them he scored in single-digits. In game 47, on Sunday night, he was one of the key reasons Gottingen took the top spot on the podium. He created his 22 points by making eight shots in nine attempts in addition to six perfect shots from the charity stripe. He wasn't faking on the defensive end as well and didn't leave the title contenders a chance to take the trophy away from him.
1 in 6 with 5: Marcus Douthit had an open deal with Gottingen. The player who joined Krasnye at mid-season and made a great positive change to its season wrote his worst game against the Germans during the Last 16 home game, when he scored only seven points and fouled out after 19 minutes. Then came the second leg where he reached 15 and seven rebounds but his team lost big time. The day of the final didn't bring better news. Douthit was limited to only two points, for the first time in the season didn't have even a single free throw attempt and missed all of his first five shots from the field. Gottingen's defense took very good care of him in this night. The best example for that is the fact Douthit grabbed no less than 5 offensive rebounds, usually one of the best shots a player in the size of Douthit can get, but still converted just one of them into a basket.
22 to be the king: It's not often that the top scorer of the competition also carries his team to the title game, but Luis Flores of Krasnye was different. He needed to score 11 points to secure his top spot on the scoring list and doubled that with 22, including 12 perfect hits from the foul line, to crown him also as the best free throws shooter in attempts, made and percentages. Only in one game the whole season did Flores not reach double-figures and then he scored nine. He showed up to the big game, which shows a lot of character, but it wasn't enough this time.
3 assists only: If you're looking for another reason why Gottingen lifted the cup, look also at Ernest Bremer. While Flores is the top scorer of the competition, Bremer is the second best passer with 5.5 assists per game, yet on the big stage of the season he wrote his lowest figure in his favorite category in the last three months - three assists. The last time he didn't reach four was in the first time he met the aggressive defense of Gottingen, back in February.
9 out of 10: Champs need to earn their crown, and Gottingen showed how to do that in the last minute of the game. Krasnye stormed back and cut the margin all the way to three inside the last 90 seconds, to put all the pressure on the locals' shoulders, but such wide and stable shoulders can handle everything. In the last minute Gottingen went to the foul line 10 times and made nine of the shots to cap a very impressive performance from the charity stripe in the entire game of 20 made shots in 23 attempts.
2 3's at 38: In 2003 Michael Meeks of Gottingen, played for Croatian side Zadar and his corner three-pointer in the semi-finals of the Adriatic League beat the buzzer and sent his team to the finals, where the club won a historical regional league title. Last night he earned the honor to lift a European title at the age of 38, and had a great contribution to that achievement, just like then, with clutch plays. Meeks wrote 4.1 points per game the whole season and just a single game in double-digits coming to the final, but when his team needed him he stepped up. Meeks played less than three minutes in the last period of the season, but he was there to see Krasnye cut the margin to seven, before replying with back-to-back three pointers to make sure this title doesn't go anywhere.
2 back-to-back assists to win: Taylor Rochestie led Gottingen in scoring and improved his season highs in each of the last three games, but on the big final night his relationship with the rim was better than with the net. He collected 14 points on 33% shooting but that helped him show what a great player he is. When his shots didn't fall in Rochestie focused on feeding his team-mates and wrote a season high in assists with six. No less than five of them came in the second half and four in two key moments. Early in the third the Russian side stood just three points behind, before Rochestie delivered two assists in 30 seconds to create five points and the first meaningful lead in the game at eight. When Krasnye closed the gap to only seven in the fourth, once again in less than 30 seconds he dished two assists to those three-pointers by Meeks, pushed the gap to 13 and sealed the trophy in the case.
2 in 7: Gottingen's victory made the EuroChallenge an even more unique competition around Europe. Very few US born coaches made the grade in the old continent. The last one to win the Euroleague title was Dan Peterson in 1987 with Tracer Milano, but in the seven EuroChallenge seasons this is the second time a team led by an American coach takes the title. In 2005 David Blatt led Dynamo St. Petersburg to win the trophy, and now John Patrick of Gottingen stood on top of the podium. Two years after wearing the EuroChallenge crown Blatt led Russia to win EuroBasket. What will Coach Patrick do in 2012...?
11 fouls 4th: The new EuroChallenge champs were one of the more aggressive teams in the competition from an early stage. They finished the games with more fouls per game (23.4) than any other team, and displayed that as podium time got closer and closer. In the Semi-Finals they committed 25 fouls, while on finals night the amount jumped to 30, more than one third of them (11) in the last quarter. For most teams it was a nightmare to attack the aggressive defense line of coach Patrick, and Gottingen maintained that to win the title.
3rd in history: BG Gottingen became the third team out of Germany to lift a European title. Alba Berlin paved the way in the 1995 Korac cup, MBC Weissenfels added the Eurocup Challenge trophy in 2004 and after six years of rest German basketball adds another continental title, now tied with Latvia with three.