Le Mans took a one-point lead in the first qualifying round by edging Alba Berlin 61-60 in the first leg in France on Tuesday night. Both teams are set to meet again at the O2 World in Berlin, Germany this Friday. The winner by aggregate score after the two games will advance to the second qualifying round next week. Marc Salyers led the winners with 28 points. JP Batista added 13, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for Le Mans. Adam Chubb led Alba with 16 points on 8-for-11 two-pointers. Julius Jenkins added 15 points for the guests. Le Mans opened the game with a 15-0 run that allowed the hosts to keep a double-digit lead, 17-7, after 10 minutes. Alba managed to get within 34-27 at halftime and used a 0-10 run to return to the game, 47-44, late in the third quarter. Alba made Le Mans go scoreless for 7 minutes and used a 0-7 run that Jenkins capped with a layup to get a 53-59 edge with 2 minutes to go. Maleye Ndoye, Salyers and a free throw by Batista helped Le Mans to regain the lead almost at the buzzer.
Salyers got Le Mans going with a layup that Batista followed with a put-back basket for a 4-0 lead. Alba could not find the way to the basket and struggled to find easy shots. Meanwhile, Zack Wright scored around the basket and Batista added a layup to give the hosts an 8-0 margin. Le Mans kept feeding its big men, as Batista and Salyers shined with consecutive baskets to make it a 12-point game, 12-0. Dee Spencer struck from downtown to cap a 15-0 opening run. Alba missed as many as 9 shots and committed 2 turnovers until Chubb stepped up with consecutive layups. Alba, that had been scoreless for more than 7 minutes, had finally adjusted its defense and started to dominate the boards. Kenan Bajramovic shined with a three-pointer that gave the guests some hope, 15-7. Antoine Diot beat the buzzer with a jumper that made Le Mans restore a double-digit lead, 17-7, at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams struggled to score early in the second quarter, as Le Mans failed to get Batista involved while Rashad Wright could not make Alba find the right rhythm in offense. Wright got the crowd involved with a three-pointer while Batista added free throws for a 22-7 Le Mans margin. An off-target Jenkins returned to the bench while Chubb tried to ignite the guests' comeback with a layup. Thierry Rupert made free throws but Immanuel McElroy answered from downtown to bring Alba withim 24-12. Chubb added another layup, as Alba improved its intensity in defense. Back-to-back layups by Phillip Zwiener and Steffen Hamann brought Alba as close as 24-18, after a 0-6 run. Salyers followed a layup with a triple to give Le Mans some fresh air, 29-18. Alba did not panic, however, as Jenkins, Wright and an outstanding Bajramovic stepped up to give the guests in the game, 32-27. Salyers scored again to fix the halftime score at 34-27.
Batista kept pacing Le Mans with a power layup immediately after the break, as Alba now tried to run its offense through Barjamovic without much success. Salyers scored again to make it an 11-point game, 38-27. Alba went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Blagota Sekulic silenced the crowd with a dunk. Batista stayed on fire but a three-pointer by Dragan Dojcin kept Alba alive at 42-32. Salyers answered from downtown and soon added a put-back layup but Alba kept its momentum going. The guests managed to stop Salyers and Jenkins followed Chubb's jumper with a triple for a 47-39 score. The hosts struggled to find its scoring reference, while Jenkins and Chubb scored again to made it a three-point game, 47-44, after a 0-10 run. Rupert scored inside but Jenkins buried his third three-pointer in as many minutes for a 49-47 Alba deficit. A layup by Salyers and a free throw by McElroy fixed the score at 51-48 after 30 minutes.
Salyers stayed unstoppable with free throws early in the fourth quarter, good for a 53-48 Le Mans edge. Alba stayed focused, however, as Jenkins sank foul shots with Chubb followed a layup with a dunk to complete the guests' comeback, 53-54. Le Mans called a much-needed timeout and improved its defense, but struggled to find good shots. As such, both teams went scoreless for more than 2 minutes, trading missed shots and turnovers until McElroy shined with a second-chance layup - and the free throw that came with it. Le Mans had been scoreless for more than 7 minutes already, while a layup by Jenkins capped an 0-11 run and gave Alba a six-point margin, 53-59, with 2 minutes to go. Ndoye, that has been scoreless until that moment, followed a layup with a critical three-pointer to keep the hosts as close as 58-59. Salyers capped a 7-0 run with a layup that put Le Mans back ahead, 60-59. Wright tied the game with a free throw and Alba opted to foul on Batista, who gave the hosts a 61-60 edge. Jenkins missed in the other end and even when Le Mans got the lead in the series, anything can happen at the O2 World on Friday.
Monday, September 28, 2009