With a virtuoso performance from one of its owners, Asvel Basket delighted its home fans by downing two-time champion Valencia 87-78 on Tuesday in the Group D opener for both teams. Point guard and part-owner Tony Parker hit back-to-back three-pointers with under 4 minutes left to break open what was a two-point game, 69-67, before those shots. Parker finished with 34 points, with 13 in the final 4 minutes. Ronny Turiaf added 12 points for Asvel, Dijon Thompson and Edwin Jackson 11 each, and Kim Tillie 10. For Valencia, Nik Caner-medley downed 19 points, Serhiy Lishchuk had a double-double of 16 and 12 rebounds, while Rafa Martinez added 12 points, Stefan Markovic 10. Asvel's advantage of 9 three-pointers made to just 4 for Valencia, with Parker and Jackson hitting 3 each, spelled the difference.
Both teams established inside points for their big men early, until Parker busted a triple that put Asvel up 7-6. Caner-Medley took the lead right back for Valencia on a three-point combination, and soon had 9 points already on another basket to tie 13-13. The game's sixth tie already was broken on a three-point play by Parker to which Turiaf added an inside basket to take control for Asvel, 20-15, after 10 minutes. Rafa Martinez got Valencia closer with the second quarter's first basket, but Asvel responded with a 9-0 run to a 29-17 advantage that featured a steal and a block by Dijon Thompson and 5 points from Parker. Florent Pietrus ended the drought with a layup for Valencia, but Parker was on fire, answering with a layup as he reached 13 points. When Edwin Jackson buried a triple, Asvel was up 15 points, 34-19. Martinez and Stefan Markovic cut into the Asvel lead, then Rihards Kuksiks kept it going until Valencia had a 0-8 run to finish the half having cut the difference almost in half, to 34-27.
Serhiy Lishchuk dunked and Martinez downed a triple to get Valencia even closer, 36-32, soon after halftime, but Thompson answered from deep for Asvel. A breakneck pace surprisingly favored Valencia, as layups by Nando DeColo and Caner-Medley made it 39-38. Parker and Turiaf revived Asvel with an acrobatic layup and a dunk at 43-38. Lishchuk and Markovic struck back for Valencia, but Jackson's next triple kept Asvel up, and when Parker found Thompson for another, the hosts led 55-47. Kuksiks came off Valencia's bench for a three-pointer that Rodrigo San Miguel soon matched as the difference was reduced to 58-55 after 30 minutes. Martinez made it a two-point game with free throws to open the final quarter, but those were answered three-fold each, as Phillip Goss and Jackson scored from long range to boos Asvel to a 64-57 advantage. Valencia wouldn't go away, however, as De Colo pumped in a corner triple at 69-67 with 4 minutes left. Parker had seen enough, however, and returned from a timeout to blast back-to-back three-pointers at 75-67. When Thompson soon downed a layup and Parker free throws, it was 80-71. One more Parker jumper gave him 31 points and his team a double-digit lead to send Asvel on its way to a big home victory to start the Eurocup season.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011