| Two seasons Eurocup teams staged a defensive battle for 40 minutes before host SLUC Nancy upended visiting Gran Canaria 67-55 in France on Tuesday to put the teams on a collision course for the Last 16. Both now have 2-2 records and are tied for second place in Group G. What's more, the 12-point difference matched that of Gran Canaria's win over Nancy the previous week, so should they stay tied in the same position, whichever has the better overall difference in Group G will advance. On Tuesday, defensnes ruled in Nancy, but the Greer brothers - Ricardo and Jeff - provided enough offense to make sure the home fans saw a victory. Ricardo Greer scored all of his 16 points after halftime to lead the winners, while Jeff Greer added 15. Marcus Slaughter's 12 rebounds led Nancy to a decisive 43-31 advantage on the boards. For Gran Canaria, Marcus Norris hit 4 three-pointers on his way to 14 points, while Jaycee Carroll added 11.
Both defenses took hold early as only Carroll was able to score a basket for either team as Gran Canaria went ahead 1-6 after 4 minutes. Steed Tchicamboud finally broke the ice for the hosts, but was answered by a Marcus Norris triple that made it 3-9. Jeff Greer joined the Nancy scoring, as did Stephen Brun with a three-point shot at 8-11. Gran Canaria had the answer, however, in Melvin Sanders, who struck from long range, too, before Marcus Slaughter's dunk for the hosts stopped the scoreboard at 10-14 after 10 minutes. Gran Canaria kept well ahead at 14-20 with baskets by Will McDonald and James Augustine early in the second quarter. Jeff Greer's three-pointer and Akin Akingbala's dunk-plus-free throw finally woke up the Nancy offense. The same due finished out the half with another Akingbala dunk and free throws to make it a whole new ballgame, 26-27, at the break.
Norris relaunched from downtown to open the second half, but Brun soon matched him for a 30-30 tie. The honor of procuring a first lead for the home team went to Ricardo Greer, whose layup made it 32-30, but soon Norris was back at the three-point arc, putting Gran Canaria back in front, 34-35. Back and forth the two teams tugged at the lead until Ricardo Greer blasted a triple at 41-37. He got to the line, hitting 1 of 2 free throws, before stepping out again for another three-pointer that suddenly made it 45-37, capping a 19-7 run for the hosts. Gran Canaria took a timeout to talk about it stalled offense, then went back to McDonald inside to trim the difference to 47-41 after 30 minutes. But the Gran Canaria offense was not unstuck yet. While John Cox popped from deep and Slaughter dunked for Nancy, its defense stopped Gran Canaria for almost 4 minutes until Sitapha Savane's layup lowered the difference again to single digits, 52-43. Norris from downtown again and Augustine inside trimmed it further, to 53-48, before Akingbala's three-point dunk-plus-free throw changed the momentum again. Ricardo Greer's next layup came with a free throw, too, restoring a double-digit lead, 62-52, for Nancy. That held until brother Jeff's triple opened the final minute at 67-54, assuring Nancy a one-point tiebreak advantage against Gran Canaria in case of a head-to-head tie. Gran Canaria called timeout, and in the remaining seconds got Augustine to the line, where he made 1 of 2, enough to assure these teams a tie on victory and point difference after their two games.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009