Adecco Asvel has done what no team before it could in Europe or Russia, knock off high-flying CSKA Moscow in a 99-87 shootout in Villerbanne on Thursday to quickly tighten the race in Group C. Asvel now joins CSKA and Virtus Bologna tri-leaders of the group at 3-1. The battle for that distinction came with everything the Villerbanne fans hoped for: great three-point shooting by Asvel and a huge game from one of the surprising big men of the season, Robert Gulyas. What wasn't expected from two coaches known for their defensive principles was so high a score. But with Asvel making 12 of 24 shots from downtown and Gulyas scoring 23 points inside, CSKA could not find any aswers. Yann Bonato added 19 points for the winners, including 3 three-pointers that put his team in charge before halftime, and Andre Owens had 10. J.R. Holden was the main gun for CSKA with 23 points, missed 9 of his 14 three-point tries. Darius Songaila contributed 18 points, Chris Gatling 13 and Nikos Hatzivrettas 11.
CSKA coach Dusan Ivkovic felt the danger early in the game, calling his first time out after less than 2 minutes played with his team down 7-2. Aleksandar Bashminov and Gatling had both picked up 2 fouls alread trying to stop Gulyas in the paint, but the big center made 4 of his first 5 shots and had 12 points quite early. Despite the fact that Songaila was doing similar magic for CSKA, with 9 points on 4-for-4 shooting, Asvel's shooters were also dropping down 4 of 5 tries from behind the three-point line and the hosts reached the end of the quarter with an eight-point advantage, 28-20.
CSKA started the second quarter with the same defensive state of mind that won them the first three games. Asvel couldn't score for the first 2 minutes and made only 1 basket in the first 4:15. In the meantime, Songaila continued his show, adding 5 points as CSKA outscored Adecco Asvel 2-10 and took the lead of the game. Gatling had to go back on the bench due to his third foul and that's the moment Asvel center Vasco Evtimov chose to score 6 points on 3 perfect shots. Simon Petrov added a three-pointer and then Bonato took fire, scoring the last 9 points of his team. At the same time, Asvel's defense was holding CSKA to 6 points in almost 5 minutes, the combination of which put the home team way ahead, 48-37, at the half.
After the break, CSKA played harder and Asvel could only score 7 points in the first 5 minutes of the third quarter. Ivkovic¿s players scored 18 points in the same time, as Holden now was hot, with 9 points based on 2 three-pointers, and in that short span, the game was tied, 55-55. In a timeout, Asvel coach Philippe Herve ordered a zone, which proved correct as CSKA was unable to score for 2 minutes. A very hard three-pointer by Harold Mrazek fell through, and when Holden's buzzer-beater rolled off the rim after several seconds, Asvel a had itself a 69-66 advantage after 30 minutes.
Asvel stayed in its zone and CSKA found it just as hard to score, managing just 3 points in 4 minutes to start the fourth quarter. Now, Asvel's incredible three-point accuracy paid off big as Mrazek added two to his collection and even the big man, Gulyas, contributed with a very important three-pointer on the shot-clock buzzer to give Asvel its largest advantage, 90-76, with 3:28 to play. CSKA couldn't get closer than 9 points and Asvel finished its remarkable game with Bonato scoring the 99th point.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002