Gescrap Bilbao Basket of Spain retained at least a share of first place in Group B with a command road performance to stop host Belgacom Spirou Basket 69-85 on Tuesday. A 4-20 run that started with a triple by Nikos Zisis just before halftime proved too much for Spirou to overcome as Bilbao raised its record to 2-0 and the hosts fell to 0-2. Kostas Vasiliadis led the winners with 17 points. Zisis had 14 and 9 assists, while Milovan Rakovic matched those 14 points. Axel Hervelle was everywhere with 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks. And Fran Pilepic buried all his shots on the way to 11 points. For Spirou, Matt Walsh was the big gun with 23 points, including 5-for-8 three-point shooting, while Derrick Allen scored 15 and Christophe Beghin 10. But the home team was on the short side of all statistics except rebounds, and as such is still searching for its first victory of the season.
Bilbao made its intentions clear by racing ahead 1-7 as Hervelle and Lamont Hamilton both detonated dunks. Justin Hamilton finally got Spirou's first field goal, a triple, and Beghin made it 6-7, but Vasiliadis answered with a three-pointer and Hamilton a basket to send Bilbao up again 6-12. The lead hit 8-16 on Hervelle's next shot and 13-21 on a triple by Zisis. The hosts were on their heels, although Walsh and Allen were able to trim the difference to 17-23 after 10 minutes. Bilbao's next blast started with a triple by Pilepic early in the second quarter that inspired three-point plays by Zisis and Mamadou Samb as the visitors suddenly sped ahead 20-34. Beghin and Allen scored Spirou's next 11 points to help reel in the difference before Walsh popped a triple to put the hosts back in the game at 34-38. Zisis had the last laugh, however, with a quarter-closing three-pointer that left Bilbao up 34-41 at the half.
The visitors came out of the lockers charged up and went to Rakovic for 6 consecutive points to reestablish a double-digit lead, 34-47. Vasiliadis took the next turn, with 7 unanswered points to finish a 2-13 run with a 36-54 scoreboard. Pairs of free throws by Rakovic and Roger Grimau made it a 20-point game, 38-58. Despite a couple of triples by Walsh, it stayed that way through 30 minutes, as another bomb by Pilepic kept Bilbao ahead 46-68. Defense dominated early in the final quarter, but even though Spirou held Bilbao scoreless for 3 minutes, its own 5 points in that span did not a comeback make. And when Pilepic started firing again and Rakovic returned to score in the paint, the lead was a safe 56-77 with 5 minutes left. It was down to limiting the damage for Spirou, but as Hervelle kept scoring and Zisis kept dishing assists, Bilbao walked away with a victory that might count even more for its size, 16 points, at the end of the regular season.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012