Le Mans Sarthe Basket advanced to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds finale with a come-from-behind 78-86 victory over Unics Kazan in the second semifinal on Thursday in Desio, Italy. Le Mans will face the event’s host, Mapooro Cantu, on Friday for a ticket to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague regular season. Unics led by 6 early in the fourth quarter and by 3 with three minutes to go, but Khalid El-Amin tied it with a three-pointer and Le Mans held Kazan scoreless until there was just 14 seconds left, by which point El-Amin and co. had wrapped up the win. Le Mans won despite getting outrebounded 36-28 because of the outstanding play of J.P. Batista, who starred with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Cuthbert Victor added 15 points, Charles Kahudi scored 13, Cam Long 12 and El-Amin finished with 12 points and 4 assists. Kostas Kaimakoglou paced Unics with 20 points and 8 rebounds, Terrell Lyday scored 18, Mire Chatman 13 and Ian Vougioukas 12. Kazan, which reached the Euroleague playoffs last season, will continue its European campaign this time in the Eurocup.
Unics went inside to Vougioukas for the game’s first points, but a Charles Kahudi jumper and foul put Le Mans ahead 2-5. Batista scored on consecutive possessions before El-Amin’s first points made it 4-10. Vougioukas remained Unics’s go-to guy, however a Victor triple made it a 7-point lead. Vougioukas found Chuck Eidson down low for a slam to seemingly ignite Kazan, but Pape Sy soared for a slam-and-foul at the other end. An El-Amin triple gave Le Mans total control at 11-21. Lyday hit back from downtown and Kaimakoglou added free throws to narrow the gap. Eidson fed Vladimir Veremeenko for an easy score and then Veremeenko got the roll on his jumper to beat the buzzer and carry Kazan within 20-22 after 10 minutes.
Charles Kahudi kept Le Mans ahead with a baseline jumper, but Unics kept attacking. Kaimakoglou impressed with a dunk-and-foul. Veremeenko made it a 2-point game once more, but Long connected from behind the arc to put Le Mans at 28-33. Chatman scored and then put together a sweet move to penetrate and find Vougioukas for a slam. The Kahudi brothers teamed up as Charles found a cutting Henri for a slam as Le Mans clung to the lead. In the final minute of the half, Igor Zamanskiy missed twice for Unics from the line and Batista punished at the other end with a low-post move for a basket-and-foul. Kaimakoglou got the ball last and made 2 free throws to leave things at 38-42 at halftime.
Kaimakoglou and Vougioukas sandwiched a pair of buckets around a Victor score as Kazan drew within 2 early in the second half. Batista remained Le Mans’s top threat and kept his team narrowly ahead. Long added a tough basket inside to make it 44-50 midway through the third quarter. Lyday came alive with 5 straight points to put the pressure on Le Mans, but Long responded with a long jumper. Charles Kahudi fed Henri for a floater, which also resulted in Kazan big man Veremeenko’s fifth foul. Missed free throws at both ends kept the scoring down. A slew of fouls also slowed down the pace in the last minute of the third quarter. Kaimakoglou cut the difference to 2 from the line and then Lyday evened the score with free throws of his own before pulling up from midcourt for a buzzer-beating triple for Unics’s first lead since the opening minutes, 61-58.
Kaimakoglou inside and Lyday outside pushed Kazan further ahead, 68-62. Long managed a three-point play to spark Le Mans and Charles Kahudi followed with a three-pointer from the corner to even the score with five minutes to go. Chatman put Unics right back on top with a three from the wing and despite a big basket from Batista, Chatman nailed another bomb. Victor kept the pressure on with a basket-plus-foul and a technical foul on the Kazan bench allowed Charles Kahudi to make it 74-73. Eidson sent a pretty pass for Aleksandr Dedushkin, but El-Amin knotted the game at 76-76 with just under three minutes left. Batista banked in a basket for a Le Mans lead. Charles Kahudi took advantage of a sloppy Unics pass to score a highlight-reel layup for a 76-80 edge. After Kaimakoglou missed twice from the line, Pape Sy penetrated for a 6-point lead with a minute left. Chatman and Eidson both missed from downtown in the final minute and El-Amin essentially iced the win from the line.
Thursday, September 27, 2012