Strasbourg led from start to finish, becoming the first team through to the semifinals of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds after downing VEF Riga 53-82 in the tournament opener in Sleuyter Arena in Ostend on Tuesday. Strasbourg now awaits the winner between fellow French side ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne and host team Telenet Ostend. After starting the game with a 0-9 lead, Strasbourg made a 2-13 run early in the second quarter to build a double-digit margin. VEF Riga was still hanging in at halftime, with the score 32-42, but Ali Traore and Antoine Diot doubled the margin soon after the break. Strasbourg took a commanding 36-56 lead halfway through the third quarter, and cruised to victory. Traore and Diot had 15 points apiece in victory, and Louis Campbell added 10 with 4 assists and 3 steals in a balanced attack for Strasbourg which hit 10 triples on 21 attempts. Gerald Robinson scored 14, and Kevin Dillard had 12 in a losing effort.
Strasbourg had a strong opening of the game, with a basket-plus-foul from Matt Howard, and triples from Campbell and Anthony Dobbins for a 0-9 lead. A dunk from Robinson opened the scoring for Riga, and Dillard added a pair of baskets, too. But Traore inside, and Diot from long range kept Strasbroug's early margin safe, 8-16. VEF's offense got going as Dillard drove for a layup-plus-free throw and Arturs Berzins nailed a triple, before back-to-back second chance dunks from Bamba Fall cut it to 19-22 at the end of the first quarter. Despite Janis Timma making it 21-22 at the start of the second quarter, Strasbourg gradually built a double-digit lead behind its defense that produced 4 steals in a short span of time. Diot, Campbell and Dobbins twice all raced to fastbreak opportunities, while Jeremy Leloup nailed a triple against Riga's zone defense for a 10-point difference. Triples from Campbell and Leloup made it 27-42, but Riga scored the final 5 points of the half, with Ingus Jakovics hitting from long distance and Berzins from inside for a 32-42 halftime margin.
The third quarter also saw Strasbourg make a strong start, with Howard and Traore controlling the paint on both ends of the floor. Strasbroug allowed only 2 points in the first four minutes of the quarter, while Traore alone scored 7 points, including a basket-plus-free throw for 34-53. A fastbreak layup-plus-foul from Diot made it 36-56, as Riga had no answers for Strasbourg's offense. Dillard did score a basket-plus-foul, and Mareks Mejeris hit a three-pointer to get within 42-58, but Diot hit another one from downtown on the other end, and Paul Lacombe made it 42-65 through three quarters. Triples from Diot and Axel Toupane, followed by a layup from Tadija Dragicevic extended it to 45-73 with six minutes to go, as Strasbourg was looking to close out the game. In the remaining time, Robinson scored a couple of baskets for Riga, and Bangaly Fofana made a pair inside for Strasbourg, before a triple from Dragicevic rounded out the scoring in the final minute.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014