Tau Ceramica took a last regular season win in Group C by 70-82 at Adecco Asvel on Wednesday, but it was not enough to move the guests up from their fourth-place standing. Tau started rolling and quickly built a 21-point second-quarter lead. Asvel came back to lead until Arvydas Macijauskas stepped up and with 13 consecutive points to send Tau comfortably through to the final buzzer. The win left Tau at 9-5, maintaining its tie with Pamesa Valencia, though it lost the tiebreaker between them due to a -7 point differential in the head-to-hear games. On the other hand, Asvel dropped to 2-12 before waving goodbye to the Euroleague from last place in the group. Macijauskas led Tau with 29 points, including 12 of 15 two-pointers. Luis Scola added 27 points by making 11 of 14 two-pointers. For Asvel, Makan Dioumassi was the best man with his 19 points, while Andre Owens and Karim Souchu bagged 16 apiece.
Asvel had great difficulty during the first quarter, as Tau dominated completely in the paint thanks to an inspired Scola, who had back up from Macijauskas. Scola hit a three-point play as Tau sped ahead 2-8, before a jumper from the side by Macijauskas made it 4-12. Owens soared with a triple to put Asvel closer and Sacha Giffa also helped, but it wasn't enough. Scola and Macijauskas were brilliant in sending Tau forward to 11-20. An assist by Pablo Prigioni to Scola soon made it 15-27 as Tau's defense was growing stronger and forced Asvel turnovers. Macijauskas put an end to the quarter with a great layup, 15-29, as he and Scola combined for all but 2 of Tau's points by then.
Tau extended its ongoing run to 0-15 when Progioni hit a triple and Kornel David added a basket for a high lead of 15-36. Souchu appeared with two straight triples to spark Asvel's strongest reaction thusfar. At 21-36, the hosts took confidence and kept cutting the deficit, to 28-40, thanks to more triples by Dioumassi. Tau tried to mix up its lineup, but Asvel wouldn't be deterred from getting nearer, at 32-40, on a basket by Souchu, who scored off a steal. Owens scored the last 7 points of his team in the quarter to overwhelm Tau's defense and pull Asvel within only 5 points, 36-41, after 20 minutes.
Both teams ran and missed a lot to begin the second half. Souchu was the turning point again for Asvel as his 5 consecutive points, including a triple, made it 44-46. The fans in Villeurbanne could not believe the reaction of their team and started to push hard. Meanwhile, Jose Manuel Calderon came on for Tau to try to slow things down a bit. Asvel remained on fire, however, as Dioumassi hit 2 free throws and Souchu nailed a three-point play to put Asvel ahead for the first time in the game, 49-48. Then, 'Kalashnikov' Macijauskas decided he had seen enough. Starting with a triple, he went on to score the following 13 points for Tau, the last seven without Asvel reply. He literally brought his team back to life, as after 30 minutes Tau was leading again, 57-63.
The last quarter was a thriller. Asvel knew it had possibilities and wanted to give their fans one last Euroleague win, but a second comeback proved difficult. Tiago Splitter started to contribute inside for Tau, and Scola reappeared. In a lucky play for the hosts, Splitter put the ball in his own basket for 61-69 and Owens added a layup for 63-69. But with under 5 minutes left, Tau took the double-digit lead again, 63-73, and with Asvel missing easy baskets, was able to maintain the distance. Dioumassi scored again with 2 minutes and 42 seconds to go for 68-78 but Macijauskas added one last basket to make it 29 points for him and send Tau's thoughts ahead to the Top 16.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004