French League runner-up Entente Orleanaise will have a golden opportunity to reach the Euroleague for the first time after defending its home court with a blowout 81-56 over Spirou Charleroi of Belgium in the second and last game of their Qualifying Round 1 series on Friday. Spirou had won their first game by just a basket, so Orleans advanced by an aggregated difference of 23 points to the next round. In Qualifying Round 2, Orleans will play Benetton twice next week, with the winner taking a place in the Euroleague regular season. The loser, just like Spirou, will play in the Eurocup. Great defense and opportunistic offense combined to fuel several key runs that made Game 2 an easy win for Orleans. Ryvon Covile paced the winners with 17 points inside, while Cedrick Banks followed with 3 three-pointers among his 15 points. Justin Doellman had 11 more. Veteran Laurent Sciarra buried his only two shots, both from downtown, while dishing 5 assists for the winners. The Orleans defense shined as well, forcing 22 Spirou turnovers, many of them early in the game as the difference on the scoreboard widened. Spirou ended up getting 15 points from Jerry Johnson and 10 from Justin Hamilton, while Andre Riddick had 8 and 10 rebounds.
Orleans made its case early, with an 9-0 blast split between Covile and Austin Nichols that put the hosts up 11-3 and got the home crowd into the game. After Justin Hamilton seemed to stop the bleeding for Spirou, Aldo Curti from deep and Covile on a three-point basket-plus-foul extended the run to 15-2 and gave Orleans its first double-digit lead, 17-5. The hosts did not want to play around with that advantage, either, and continued forcing Spirou turnovers before Justin Doellman's basket preserved a 26-15 lead after 10 minutes.
The second quarter saw Orleans press its advantage even more with continued defensive aggressiveness. Spirou could only manage a couple baskets before Laurent Sciarra and Banks started and ended an 8-0 run with triples that ballooned the difference to 20 points, at 39-19, after just 14 minutes. By that time, Spirou already had 10 turnovers. The guests tried to get back into the game with their own 0-9 run, including 6 points by Andre Riddick. Doellman and Covile calmed Orleans then, however, as the hosts took a solid 46-30 edge into the locker room at halftime.
With a layup by Len Matela and a triple by Johnson to star the second half, Spirou got as close as 46-35. But the Belgian champs could not stop Ludovic Vaty from downing the next 4 points, and soon the Orleans defense was on a roll again. The hosts locked down Spirou to just four points over the last over the last 7 minutes of the third quarter, including a last-second layup by Broyles. In the meantime, Covile and Banks were scoring enough to boost the difference to 58-39.
The precise thing that Spirou was lacking, points, was all that could save the visitors going into the fourth quarter. Instead, it was Orleans putting the matter to rest as Sciarra, Doellman and Banks blasted a three-pointer each in an 11-2 run to open the quarter. By the time they were done, it was 69-41 with 7 minutes left and there was no way Spirou was coming back from that on the road. The Belgians were headed to the Eurocup, with the Orleans fans looked ahead to next week and a chance to qualify for the Euroleague!
Friday, October 2, 2009