MoraBanc upsets ASVEL, reaches semis
In a back-and-forth battle that literally came down to the final shot, MoraBanc Andorra advanced to the 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals by edging LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 80-82 on the road in Game 3 on Wednesday. MoraBanc won the best-of-three series 1-2 and will face ALBA Berlin in the semifinals. Dylan Ennis and Jerome Jordan led the winners with 14 points apiece and David Jelinek added 13. Miro Bilan paced ASVEL with 19 points, David Lighty scored 16 and Charles Kahudi had 14 for the hosts, who led 20-9 in the first quarter. MoraBanc got within 22-19 after 10 minutes and used an outstanding second quarter to lead 39-48, at the break. Bilan and Kahudi helped ASVEL gain a 68-67 early in the fourth quarter. Free throws by Lighty gave ASVEL its last lead, 80-79. Ennis took over with a wild driving layup and ASVEL was held scoreless in crunch time with A.J. Slaughter missing the potential series-winner from downtown at the buzzer.
ASVEL looked for its big men early in the game; a couple of layups by Miro Bilan and a jumper by Amine Noua sparked the hosts to an 8-0 lead. John Shurna stepped up with a triple and Jordan scored twice in the paint, but Lighty and Kahudi kept ASVEL ahead, 15-7. Shurna downed a jumper, but an unstoppable Lighty singlehandedly made it a double-digit game, 20-9. Jordan and Michele Vitali fueled a 0-8 MoraBanc run that got the visitors within 20-17. Mantas Kalnietis and Jordan traded layups to fix the score at 22-19 after 10 minutes. An unstoppable Jordan hit a turnaround jumper early in the second quarter and back-to-back three-pointers by Vitali and Albicy gave the visitors their first lead, 22-27, after a 0-10 run. Kahudi and Rafa Luz exchanged layups and a tip-in by Reggie Upshaw made it a 6-point game. Bilan tried to change things with a put-back layup and Khadim Sow found his first points, but Shurna nailed a three-pointer that made it 29-34. Moussa Diagne and Ennis took over with back-to-back three-point plays, which boosted MoraBanc's margin to 35-43. Jelinek struck from beyond the arc and a buzzer-beating layup by Ennis gave MoraBanc a 39-48 margin at halftime. Kalnietis downed a floater immediately after the break, igniting a 7-0 run that Noua capped with a triple in transition after which the visitors called timeout at 46-48. Jelinek sank a corner triple and a wild alley-oop-and-one by Diagne gave MoraBanc fresh air at 49-55. Lighty hit a triple in a 7-0 run in which Bilan had 4 points to put ASVEL ahead, 56-55. Luz stepped up with a driving layup and Jelinek struck twice from downtown, but Theo Maledon and Kahudi kept the hosts close at 61-63. Reggie Upshaw singlehandedly boosted the visitors' lead to 61-67 after three quarters. Maledon took over early in the fourth quarter, leading a 7-0 run that restored an ASVEL lead, 68-67. Upshaw buried a three-pointer and Jordan added a jump hook, but Kahudi helped the hosts to a 73-72 edge. Jordan fouled out and Diagne had 4 fouls, so MoraBanc opted for a small lineup with Upshaw at center while ASVEL tried to get its big men involved. Noua and Bilan each scored down low for a 78-75 ASVEL advantage with 3 minutes left. Albicy and Ennis made free throws, but Lighty gave ASVEL an 80-79 lead with 1:44 left. Ennis scored in penetration, but ASVEL got the ball back with 30 seconds to go. Kahudi missed and ASVEL fouled Albicy with 15 seconds left. He split free throws, Slaughter missed from downtown at the buzzer, allowing MoraBanc to proceed with the on-court celebrations.
Dylan Ennis was his team's leader in crunch time and stepped up with the go-ahead layup in the next-to-last minute. He finished the game with 14 points on 8-of-9 free throw shooting, 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 14.
MoraBanc was without big men, but its small lineup managed to keep ASVEL scoreless in the last minute, in which the hosts missed 3 shots – Mantas Kalnietis and A.J. Slaughter from downtown and Charles Kahudi in the paint. Meanwhile, Dylan Ennis and Andrew Albicy allowed MoraBanc to record arguably the biggest win in club history.
Three-point shots made the difference in this game; MoraBanc made 10 of 20 shots from downtown (50.0%) and ASVEL downed just 7 of 21 (33.3%). In fact, ASVEL had a higher PIR (89-85), but MoraBanc won the game and will keep fighting for EuroCup greatness.
Did you notice?
MoraBanc has made it to the EuroCup Semifinals for the first time in club history. It is MoraBanc's first-ever semifinal in European competition, too. It had never gone past the regular season before. It also became the 10th Spanish League team to make it this far in the EuroCup.
MoraBanc is set to face ALBA Berlin in the German capital in Game 1 of the semifinals on Tuesday, May 19. These teams will meet each other for the first time. ASVEL has been eliminated from the competition and missed the chance to become the second French team to reach the semifinals.
Wednesday, March 13, 2019