Kaba leads ASVEL to big road win
A game-long defensive battle to open Group F fell the way of the visitors on Tuesday as LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne topped Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar on Wednesday in what was a rare result for both teams. For the first time in nine EuroCup campaigns, ASVEL was able to win its first road game after the regular season, while Lokomotiv dropped to 0-1, after having gone 17-1 in the second group stage over its previous three appearances in the 7DAYS EuroCup. Alpha Kaba led the winners with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. David Lighty added 15 points and Amine Noua 13 for ASVEL. Jamel McLean led Lokomotiv with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Mateusz Ponitka had 13 points and Dmitry Kulagin 12 for the hosts.
The defenses ruled until Ponitka sparked Lokomotiv with a reverse and an assist for Dmitry Khvostov's triple at 11-4. Maledon had the same combo to get ASVEL close before his free throws gave the visitors their first lead, although Kulagin's spnning reverse tied it 15-15 after one quarter. Kaba's offensive rebounding kept ASVEL in front until Kulagin scored and found Ponitka cutting for a basket at 29-25. But that high lead proved brief as Maledon's 3 perfect free throws made it 34-34 at halftime. McLean had a pair of big dunks and 4 free throws while also stealing and assisting Ponitka for a 50-43 Lokomotiv lead. Lighty's 3 perfect free throws steadied the visitors until Noua's triple and hook shot restored an ASVEL lead that Vladimir Ivlev took back with a tip-in on the third-quarter buzzer, 52-51. McLean took over with a three-point play and Kulagin banked in a close shot for a 57-53 Lokomotiv lead early in the fourth quarter. Lighty dunked off a steal and fed Noua for a layup that kept ASVEL as close as 60-59 with 4 minutes left. A put-back layup by Kaba made the hosts call timeout at 60-61. McLean and Maledon split free throws before a three-point play by Lighty boosted ASVEL's lead to 61-65. Kaba dunked next, but Kulagin singlehandedly brought Lokomotiv within 65-67 with 40 seconds left. ASVEL picked up a 24-second turnover, giving Lokomotiv a chance to win. Kulagin's layup try was blocked by Kaba, and when Vitaly Fridzon came up with a loose ball and launched from downtown at the buzzer, his shot missed, sending the victory back to France with ASVEL.
Alpha Kaba made the difference in this game with his physicality, hustle and athleticism. He finished the game with 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 4 fouls drawn and a PIR of 26. He set new personal records in rebounds, blocks and PIR, all in the same game.
Lokomotiv led 60-57 midway through the fourth quarter but Kaba and an outstanding David Lighty fueled a 1-10 run that allowed ASVEL to get full control of the game, 61-67.
ASVEL won in all hustle categories, pulling down 22 offensive rebounds, blocking 6 shots and collecting 7 steals. Lokomotiv had 14 offensive rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals.
Did you notice?
Kaba finished the game with 9 offensive rebounds, a new season high in the competition and the EuroCup's best mark since Stephane Lasme of Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul pulled down 9, as well, against Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari on February 10, 2016. Chris Anstey owns the all-time record with 11 offensive boards, playing for Ural Great Perm against BCM Gravelines on October 29, 2002. Kaba's effort meant that ASVEL's 22 offensive rebounds matched the most by any EuroCup team this season, too.
Both teams return to 7DAYS EuroCup action next Tuesday, January 8 in Round 2 of the Top 16. Lokomotiv hits the road to play Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt and ASVEL hosts ratiopharm Ulm at 20:45 CET.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019