Asvel Basket took a major step forwards to reach the Last 16 round in Group E and set a make-or-break showdown to finish first next week by edging Lietuvos Rytas 93-90 in Lyon, France on Tuesday night. Asvel improved to 3-2 and ties with Azovmash Mariupol for first place, with L. Rytas and Kalise Gran Canaria right behind 2-3. Since Asvel visits Azovmash in Mariupol, Ukraine next week, the winner of that game will be the group champion. Asvel, however, will be first with a win and third if it loses due to its tie-break disadvantage against L. Rytas and Gran Canaria. L. Rytas must beat Gran Canaria at home to finish second, as it has a tie-break advantage against Asvel and Azovmash. Ben Dewar led the winners with 26 points. Chevon Troutman and Ali Traore each added 16, J.R. Reynolds had 14 while Amara Sy got 12, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for Asvel. Branko Milisavljevic led L. Rytas with 24 points. Marijonas Petravicius added 21 on 10-for-11 two-pointers, Chuck Eidson had 16 while Steponas Babrauskas got 10 for the guests. It all came down to the final second of an outstanding game, in which Milisavljevic missed from downtown while a free throw by Traore fixed the final score with 0.1 seconds remaining.
Both teams struggled to score in the early going, as free throws by Milko Bjelica gave L. Rytas a 1-2 edge after 2 minutes. Petravicius shined with back-to-back layups but Traore and a jumper by Troutman kept Asvel within 5-6. Eidson took over with a tip-in while Milisavljevic struck from downtown for a 8-11 L. Rytas edge. Troutman followed free throws with a jumper to give his team a 12-11 edge. It didn't last long, as L. Rytas answered with a 0-9 run that Babrauskas capped with a three-pointer. Laurent Foirest and Troutman managed to keep Asvel within 22-26 after 10 minutes. Milisavljevic and Bjelica combined for all points in a 0-6 run that kept the guests ahead, 26-32, early in the second quarter. Reynolds struck from downtown while Dewar added an easy layup to keep Asvel within 31-33. A three-pointer by Reynolds and a layup by Traore completed the hosts' comeback, 36-35. Milisavljevic and Petravicius stepped up for L. Rytas to restore a 40-43 edge. Free throws by Arturas Jomantas and a wide open triple by Milisavljevic made it an eight-point game, 40-48, at halftime.
Dewar buried a three-pointer right after the break and added a fast break layup for a 45-50 Asvel deficit. A red hot Dewar had 10 points, including consecutive triples, in a 12-0 run that Troutman capped with a layup for a 59-52 Asvel lead. Martynas Gecevicius sank a triple, igniting a 0-8 L. Rytas run that Eidson capped with an outstanding off-balance layup for a 59-60 lead. Traore and Foirest combined for 4 quick points, Dewar hit one from downtown while a layup by Traore gave Asvel a 71-67 edge after 30 minutes. Milisavljevic and Babrauskas sank back-to-back triples for a 73-73 tie early in the fourth quarter. Sy and Troutman took with consecutive dunks but Petravicius kepy L. Rytas within 77-75 with 4 minutes remaining. Troutman shined with a put-back layup while Reynolds scored again to keep Asvel ahead, 81-78. Eidson and Milisavljevic buried incredible triples for a 84-84 tie. Traore dunked it but Eidson struck again from downtown for a 86-87 L. Rytas edge with under a minute remaining. Reynolds made free throws, L. Rytas committed a key turnover while more foul shots by Foirest gave Asvel a 90-87 edge with 15.7 seconds to go. More foul shots by Foirest gave Asvel a 92-90 edge but Milisavljevic missed an eight-meter shot almost at the buzzer.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009