LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne picked up its second consecutive win and a second consecutive on its home floor by a double-digit margin. For the second week in a row, it was a balanced offensive effort that had ASVEL enjoying a comfortable advantage throughout the night, but three names stood out again – team captain Charles Kahudi, sharpshooting big man Amine Noua and veteran playmaker Mantas Kalnietis.
While team captain Kahudi, who played on an injured ankle and earned praise from coach Mitrovic, is in his fourth year with the club, and Noua is a homegrown player, former EuroCup champion Kalnietis arrived to the club this summer. And despite playing a critical position for the team, Kalnietis needed little time to fit right in.
In each of the three games this season, Kalnietis has dished at least 6 assists, and last night he stepped up in a big way with 19 points, one shy of his EuroCup career-high, and 8 assists, which tied his best effort in the competition. His performance index rating of 23 in Round 3 is tied for the second best in his EuroCup career. The veteran playmaker set the tone from the start against Turk Telekom Ankara, helping ASVEL pull away with 11 points and 5 assists before halftime. Kalnietis continued orchestrating ASVEL’s offense after the break, too, as the team finished with 23 assists, which is the sixth most in 89 games the club has played in the competition.
This is the fourth EuroCup season for Kalnietis, but he had only one full season in the competition so far, and it was in 2012-13 when he helped Lokomotiv Kuban Kransnodar lift the title. To this day that also remains the best EuroCup season for Kalnietis, but if looking at his early numbers, he will shatter most of his previous career numbers. And as a veteran player who dictates the play of his team, its looks like a very promising season for ASVEL.