Aris TT Bank took a decisive step to reach the Top 16 in competitive Group B by thrashing Le Mans 93-74 in Thessaloniki, Greece, on Thursday. Aris improved to 5-4 and is fifth in Group B, two wins ahead of sixth place Cibona. Meanwhile, Le Mans dropped to 0-9 and is all but mathematically out of the Top 16 race. Bracey Wright paced the winners with 27 points. Reyshawn Terry posted a double-double of 21 points on 8-for-9 two-point shooting and 14 rebounds, while Terrel Castle had 16 points for Aris. Sam Clancy had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Le Mans, Phil Ricci added 14 while Luka Bogdanovic and Raviv Limonad each got 11 for the guests. Clancy and Nicolas Batum allowed Le Mans to get a 9-12 lead early, but Terry, Castle and Dimitris Tsaldaris stepped up to put Aris back ahead, 27-23, after 10 minutes. A 10-2 run that Terry capped with a basket put Aris ahead for good, 37-28. Le Mans struggled to score and had problems at point guard. Meanwhile, Wright had 8 points in a game-breaking 15-2 run that Simonas Serapinas capped with a triple to give Aris a mammoth 54-35 advantage at halftime. Terry and Wright kept pacing Aris after the break, even when Jeremiah Massey left the game with an injury. As such, Aris kept a 68-50 lead after three quarters and did not find much trouble to add an important home win.
The game was balanced from the start. Tsaldaris opened the scoring, but soon Alain Koffi followed, while Massey and Batum used successful post moves to create the first tie of the game, 4-4. Wright buried Aris’s first three, but Clancy soon started a 5-point spurt capped by Batum who put his team ahead 9-12. The hosts reacted with back-to-back triples by Castle and Tsaldaris, regaining the lead with three minutes left till the end of the first quarter. Le Mans struggled offensively for the next two minutes as Aris managed to establish its first real advantage, 23-18, thanks to a Terry layup, leaving Limonad to fix the final score of the first period with a mid-jumper, 27-23.
Le Mans stood up early in the second quarter with Clancy netting a layup and Ricci scoring a pair of free throws to tie the game at 27-27. However, Terry and Wright took Aris in their arms and took back the lead for the hosts. A Terry slam and Wright’s penetration put the hosts up 6, forcing the Le Mans bench to call a timeout. Nothing changed after the break, as Aris controlled the tempo of the game and Wright walked again to the foul line to push the difference for the first time to double digits. The visitors couldn’t find the way to the basket and Massey dunked on the fast break leaving no other choice to head coach Vincent Collet than asking for another timeout. Le Mans was shocked by the tough defense of Aris and soon Wright fired again from beyond the arc, extending the difference. Koffi netted the only layup for his team in the second part of the game trying to reduce the damage, but Castle and Serapinas contributed to a 5-point final run to keep their team safe at the halftime whistle, 54-35.
Le Mans tried to exploit Massey’s absence due to a slight injury early in the third quarter with Ricci and Clancy scoring easy layups under the basket to cut the difference. However, Mottola kept Aris’s 20-point lead, exploiting the miss-match against Batum twice, and Wright hit another mid-range jumper to make it a 20-point game. Ricci and Clancy were fighting alone, but they couldn’t limit the damage because Aris was finding easy baskets through both Terry and Lazaros Agadakos, whose layups established the final score of the quarter, 68-50.
Limonad started the last quarter with his first triple, but was soon matched by Castle. The game soon transformed into a procedural process as Terry added to Aris’s lead with two trips to the foul line and Castle fired again from beyond the arc to keep Aris out of trouble. Massey was still stuck in the bench due to his injury, but the visitors couldn’t get any closer despite Bogdanovic’s first triple with five minutes to go. Le Mans definitely surrendered and Collet decided to give some time to the young big guy Jeremy Leloup, as Agadakos ignited a personal 6-point run to create the biggest lead for his team in the game, 90-64. With the winner almost known from halftime, both coaches used all their young guys on the bench during the last minutes establishing a promising image for the future with Dimitrios Karadolamis and Michalis Tsairelis from the hosts and Leloup, Clement Allerme and Antoine Diot from the guests to fix the final score of the game, 93-74.
Thursday, December 20, 2007