In Group A opener, Le Mans Sarthe Basket survived a thriller ending to hold off Cibona Zagreb 76-78 on Wednesday in Basketball Center Drazen Petrovic. Led by DaShaun Wood, Le Mans was in front by as many as 18 points late in the third quarter, but the hosts put together a spirited comeback. It all resulted in late drama that ended with Jerel Blassingame missing a potential game-winning wide open three-pointer as time expired. Wood scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half for Le Mans. J.P. Batista had 14, and Pape Sy 11 points in victory. Matthew Janning had 19 points for Cibona, D.J. Strawberry netted 15, Dario Saric had 11 points plus 8 rebounds, while Andrija Zizic collected 10 points plus 12 rebounds.
Blassingame, Strawberry and Zizic helped Cibona to 9-5 lead early on, but Vaughn Duggins and Charles Kahudi strung together 7 points, including Kahudi's triple for 9-12, and Le Mans never trailed again. After Janning tied it 16-16, Le Mans once again scored 7 consecutive points, and Antoine Eito's three helped make it 17-23. With baskets from Sy and another triple from Eito, margin grew to 20-30, before Janning's 7 points in a row, including his first shot behind the arc, kept Cibona in range, 27-31. However, triples from Sy and Wood, coupled with baskets inside from J.P. Batista, got the margin back into double-digits, and Le Mans went into halftime up 33-44. At the start of the second half, another triple from Wood made it 33-49, putting visitors in complete control. Le Mans seemed to have too many scoring options, with Batista, Duggins and Kahudi all contributing, and Wood's third three-pointer made it 45-63 midway through the third quarter. Cibona finally got some spark through Saric and Janning, with latter making a put-back to end the third, and a triple to start the fourth quarter, helping cut it to 59-69. Cibona's run continued with hustle plays from Strawberry, and some aggressive defense, and Strawberry's fastbreak dunk cut it to 67-71. Wood answered with a triple to give Le Mans some breathing space, but 7 more baskets from Strawberry, including a triple, kept Cibona's hope alive, cutting it to 76-78. In the final 20 seconds, the hosts forced two more turnovers, but Zizic and Saric missed from close range, and Blassingame's potential game-winning triple hit the rim, leaving Cibona just short of completing a great comeback, as Le Mans pulled off an all-important away win to start the season.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013