Spirou Charleroi beat visiting DKV Joventut 64-56
Mixed feelings marked the end of the opening game that saw Charleroi of Belgium top DKV Joventut of Spain 64-56 on Tuesday. For Charleroi, a flat final quarter saw their blowout lead of 21 points after 30 minutes dwindle to a less-imposing eight at the finish. And for Joventut, having lightened the load for the second game a bit did not erase the sad fact of just 39 points of offense in the first three quarters. Charleroi was probably out of gas late because it ran like crazy for the first three quarters. Marcus Faison led the winners with 14 points and Vladimir Kuzmanovic added 13. For Joventut, missing big man Maceo Baston due to a dispute with the club, Zan Tabak held things together under the boards with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Juan Espil added 13 himself.
Charleroi put the ball in the hands of Moors and told him to run, so he did, very fast on offense and very aggressively on defense. Not even an early pair of offensive rebounds by Tabak could slow down Charleroi as it sped up and down the court. Marcus Faison found a pair of open three-pointers on the wing and like that, the Belgian hosts were ahead 12-4. Riddick joined the offense with some precision too, and finally Joventut took a timeout to talk it over with 16-8 already on the board after 6 minutes. But Charleroi was not done yet. Tabak was able to draw a second foul on Riddick and up his rebound total to 6, but little Moors was still rocketing out on fastbreaks for the hosts. Only the first-quarter buzzer was able to stop him, and by then, Charleroi was in charge at 23-10.
A problem with lights caused a break of 10 minutes early in the second quarter, but it changed nothing in terms of Charleroi's game pace. Actually, even the entry of Jacques Stas and Roger Huggins for Moors and Jim Potter (6 rebounds) did not change anything. Neither did Joventut's zone defense. Ellis and Faison were almost shooting with their eyes closed now, and the lead blew up to 33-14. It became a matter of urgency for Joventut to react now, after making only 8 of 25 attempts in the first 15 minutes. The best that the visitors could to was finish with a 7-11 run, which cut Charleroi's lead to 15 points, 40-25, at halftime.
Joventut tried to rally after halftime with better shooting, especially from Paco Vazquez, and a more effective zone defense from which Tabak pulled all the rebounds. The visitors were able to knock a basket off the deficit at 47-34. Charleroi had difficulties keeping up its high-paced tempo, but was still fighting for every loose ball. That hustle also led to 4 offensive rebounds that sent the hosts back on their way. Suddenly, the lead was up near 20 points again, at 52-34. Ron Ellis was the catalyst this time, but Vladimir Kuzmanovic and Riddick were adding their touch, too as Charleroi streaked out of sight at 60-39 with visions of the quarterfinals already dancing in the heads of the Belgian fans.
But there was still a quarter to play, and in those 10 minutes, Joventut went about saving its life and proving to itself and Charleroi that it belonged in the series. First, the defense took over, and by the time it was done, the Spaniards had held Charleroi to just 4 points on the quarter, 2 in the first 9 minutes. Meanwhile, the offense came to life for 17 points with Juan Espil and Antonio Bueno working outside and in to chip away at the margin. By the time Carles Marco dropped the last points in from the free throw line, what had been a 21-point hole Joventut looked up from 10 minutes earlier was only 8 points to make up when the teams meet in the rematch in Badalona next week.
Tuesday, February 4, 2003