Harrison shines for Ukrainian champs, sets up Final against Parma-Parimatch
SOFIA (Bulgaria) - D'Angelo Harrison was in a world of his own to guide BC Prometey to the Final of the Basketball Champions League 2021-22 Qualifying Rounds. The Ukrainians will face Parma-Parimatch, who eliminated Le Mans in the other Semi-Final.
The fact that Le Mans are out also means that Season Six of the BCL will not feature TaShawn Thomas, who made himself one of the biggest stars of the League during his days with Hapoel Holon and Hapoel Jerusalem, but could not help the French side reach the Regular Season.
Parma-Parimatch were always a couple of steps faster than Le Mans in the Semi-Finals, but Elric Delord's players did have a chance of a comeback with four minutes to play. Down by 5, they had two transition opportunities to make it a one-possession game, but both TaShawn Thomas and Kenny Baptiste failed to convert their contested layups.
View this post on Instagram
Instead of it being a three-point game, it was a three-pointer that sealed the deal. Eigirdas Zukauskas knocked down one from just in front of the Le Mans bench, taking the air out of the building and creating an 8-point lead with 3:30 left to play. The comeback did not happen, it ended 82-69.
"We had a little bit better game than the first one," Parma-Parimatch head coach Kazys Maksvytis said. "Very good balance against such an aggressive team as the French teams usually are, we had 23 assists and only 8 turnovers."
Jeremiah Hill scored 17 points with 6 assists off the bench for Parma-Parimatch, Zukauskas went all-round for 14 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, while Artsiom Parakhouski collected an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Scott Bamforth finished the game with 22 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds for Le Mans, TaShawn Thomas scored 16, but it wasn't enough on the day.
"They played better than us. We had some troubles during the preseason, we started practice on August 22, and we need time to sync. A team needs time to work and practice together. We tried, but we were not ready," Le Mans head coach Delord said.
Earlier in the day, BC Prometey had a demonstration of force against the finalists of the Czech League. By the time Opava realized what's going on, it was already a 20-point game with the Ukrainian champs leading 33-13 at the end of the first quarter.
The lead ballooned to 30 points, and Prometey spent 38:42 of the game in front, whilst Opava led for just 16 seconds in this Semi-Final. Final score: 100-78.
"The key was the gap from the first half. We fought, but they had great percentage from the three-point line. It was a huge lesson, now we are looking forward to the FIBA Europe Cup," Opava's best player Jakub Sirina said after scoring 15 points in a loss.
View this post on Instagram
Prometey knocked down seven three-pointers in the first quarter, three of those by Chris Dowe. D'Angelo Harrison also had three triples in the first half, and Prometey shot 14-of-28 from deep as a team over the 40 minutes.
"We knew they are tough, shooting team, so we wanted to come out aggressive on defense. We wanted to play hard. We played our style, in transition," Prometey's DJ Stephens explained.
Harrison needed just 25 minutes of work to put up 33 points on the scoreboard, done on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, with 8 rebounds and 3 assists to his name, not committing a single turnover in his time on the court. It was a performance similar to all of those he had for Happy Casa Brindisi a season ago, which made him an MVP contender before his injury.
Sean Evans missed just one of his 11 shots to finish with 20 points, Dowe had 13, and Olexandr Belikov also reached double digits with 10 off the bench for coach Ronen Ginzburg. With the way they looked in the first two games, they seem to be the favorites in the Final.
"Prometey is a very strong team with a good coach in Ronen Ginzburg. I expect a tough, physical game, and I hope our team makes the last step successfully," Parma-Parimatch head coach Maksvytis is happy to take the role of the underdog in the Final.
The Final in Sofia will be played on Saturday. Friday will see the other three Finals, with BC Kalev/Cramo up against Uniclub Casino - Juventus in Tallinn, U-BT Cluj Napoca squaring off with Fribourg Olympic in Peristeri, and Nutribullet Treviso trying to make the most of being the host against Tsmoki-Minsk in Italy.