The first Euroleague game in France this season was decided in the last minute in Villeurbanne as host Adecco Asvel beat Alba Berlin 91-89 in Group C. The littlest guard in the Euroleague, Shawnta Rogers, was the biggest man of the game thanks to a great fourth quarter in which he scored key baskets on the way to a floor-high 26 points. Derek Hood added 15 and Karim Souchu nailed 14 for Asvel. For Alba, Jovo Stanojevic and Vlantimir Sterigou led the way with 18 points each, DeJuan Collins added 16 and Nino Garris contributed 12, all of them from the three-point line. A high-scoring first half gave way to Adecco opening a double-digit lead after three quarters. Alba rallied, but the final two-point margin was as close as the visitors would get before the clock ran out. As such, Asvel goes 1-0 in Group C, while Alba starts out 0-1.
The first quarter in Villeurbanne saw both teams scoring at a high pace, both with good percentages, as by the end of the first half, the team with the lowest accuracy would be the hosts, at 50%. Both teams were close to each other throughout the first 10 minutes, and the leads kept going back and forth until Herve Toure's triple made it 24-23 for Asvel. Another bomb from the arc by Shawnta Rogers off his own offensive rebound earned Asvel a four-point lead, 27-23, that seemed to be the separation the hosts needed. But Alba center Jovo Stanojevic replied from the free throw line, and a fast triple missed by Rogers left the scoreboard at 27-25 after 10 minutes.
Alba would tie the game 27-27 on the first play of the second period, a layup by young center Szymon Szewczyk. The game was scoreless for a minute until Nino Garris put Alba ahead with a triple, 27-30, but with Derek Hood on the court, Asvel would be able to resist. His 4 straight points tied the game again, 31-31. At that time, both teams had been surviving on three-point shots. Garris hit 2 more from deep for a 36-40 Alba advantage, but a quick rally by the hosts culminated with Rogers making a layup to pull Asvel within 40-42 in minute 18. The hosts would never get to tie before the break, however, as Harold Mrazek and DeJuan Collins came up with yet more triples for Alba, putting the visitors in charge 44-48 after 20 minutes.
Soon after coming out of the locker rooms, David Frigout would tie the game for Asvel 50-50 with a three-point play, and from that moment, the teams would take turns in the lead. Stanojevic returned the advantage to Alba until 4 straight points by Hood and Mrazek earned Asvel a three-point lead in minute 24. Newcomer Souchu was up to 14 points at this stage of the game for Asvel, while Stanojevic was the best man for Alba with the same amount. The Asvel lead increased to 5 points with Sacha Giffa's free throws, but Stanojevic replied immediately once again. It was then, however, when Asvel hit a 10-3 run that opened a crack on the score, 68-59, thanks to Rogers and Makan Dioumassi's triple. From the free throw line, Hood would earn a double-digit lead for Asvel, 69-59, in minute 28. A final dunk by Herve Toure sent Asvel into the decisive final period with a 71-62 cushion.
Rogers appeared like a storm in the final quarter by scoring 4 straight points. Alba was not really able to recover from the third quarter and found it difficult to hang on. Nevertheless, Garris hit his fourth three-pointer without miss to get his team in step again. But tiny Rogers was a giant throughout the last quarter. He hit again for three to give Asvel comfort at 78-67. Alba coach Emir Mutapcic tried another timeout, and his players answered with 4 straight points, a couple of good defensive stops, but still it was 83-74 with 2 minutes left. The deficit decreased as Sterigou and Collins combined for free throws and one basket and suddenly it was 84-80. But with 22 seconds left, Rogers launched and made the game-deciding three-pointer 87-80. Collins was able to make a layup plus free throw for 87-83, but had to then foul Rogers, who made both free throws. So when Alba's Mithat Demirel posted a triple on the buzzer, Asvel was still ahead by 2 points, 91-89, for an important first victory.
Wednesday, November 5, 2003