Two proud clubs with all intentions of advancing, Asvel Basket and Galatasaray Cafe Crown, battled to a 69-69 tie in the first leg of their two-game Last 32 elimination series in Villeurbanne, France on Tuesday. As such, the winner of their rematch on Galatasaray's court in Istanbul next week will advance in the competition. Cenk Akyol's three-point bomb, the only points scored in the game's final 3-plus minutes, gave Galatasaray the tie and an ostensible advantage headed home to Istanbul. Asvel had enjoyed a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter before a 0-12 run got Galatasaray back in the game for good. Galatasaray held scorers Lamayne Wilson and Robert Conley to single digits each, but Asvel compensated with dominant rebounding led by Uchenna Nsomwu, who pulled 11 boards. Chevon Troutman led Asvel with 17 points, while Nsomwu 13 and Laurent Foirest 10. For Galatasaray, Robert Hite came to the rescue time and again with his 23 points, while Charles Gaines added 10.
Asvel took it to the visitors with a 7-2 start punctuated by Aymeric Jeanneau's three-pointer, the game's first. It wasn't long, however, before Huseyin Besok and Hite made consecutive shots from the arc to make it 11-10. When Hite's next basket put Galatasaray in front, Wilson responded from downtown as Asvel rolled ahead 17-12. Kaya emerged then blasting a pair of triples that were good for a 22-22 tie, but Uchenna Nsomwu and Wilson combined for the alst 4 points of the first quarter as Asvel led 26-22. Troutman, Foirest and Wilson kept Asvel's run going with 9 unanswered points to open the second quarter and boost the difference to 35-22. Hite paced Galatasaray's reaction with a three-point play the hard way, but a triple by Foirest and Jeanneau's shorter shot preserved Asvel's double-digit lead at 40-27. Not for long, though. In the remaining 5 minutes before halftime, Galatasaray shut out the hosts while Cuneyt Erden sparked a 0-12 in which Gaines poured in 6 points as the visitors cut the difference to a single point, 43-39, at the break.
After Besok opened the second half with a hook shot to get Galatasaray within 43-41, Asvel answerd with Troutman's 6 points in 2 minutes and a new lead of 51-45. Gaines and Akyol sustained Galatasaray with points and defense until Besok busted out with the game-tying basket at 53-53. Jeanneau answered immediately with a triple for Asvel, but on the next shot Hite matched him, after which the teams wrestled on defense for the lead. Neither scored for the next 2 minutes, until Foirest finished the quarter with a blast from downtown to keep Asvel in front, 59-56 after 30 minutes. Yohann Sangare copied Foirest on the fourth quarter's first possession to make it 62-56, but an exchange of baskets drifted the way of Galatasaray as Hite's back-to-back two-pointers left a 64-62 scoreboard. Another tense defensive standoff ensued. Troutman put a free throw and a basket around one by Hite, Nsomwu and Akyol exchanged two-pointers, and Asvel entered the final 3 minutes ahead 69-66. Another whole minure passed before Akyol stepped up and buried a game-tying triple. Win or lose, Galtasaray had done its job by then, but as the defenses continued dominating and the score stayed stuck, it set the teams up for a winner-take-all showdown when they return to Istanbul next week.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008