A point-for-point battle for the finish ended with Asvel Basket advancing to the second of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds after outlasting Buducnost in the first one thanks to an 85-76 overtime home victory on Friday. The nine-point difference was enough to overcome Buducnost's five-point win in the first game of their series and advance on aggregate score. Asvel will meet familiar French foe Le Mans in the second round next Tuesday and Friday. It could have easily gone the other way as Buducnost rallied from 8 points behind on the series scoreboard with 100 seconds to lay to force an overtime to decide the matter. Angel Vassallo was the decider for Asvel, pouring in 20 points to go with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. The winners also got a rare pair of double-doubles, 19 points and 11 rebounds from Davon Jefferson, 11 and 10, respectively, from Andrija Zizic. Cliff Hammonds chipped in 12 points and 4 assists, too. Buducnost got 17 points on 5-for-6 three-point shooting from Sead Sehovic, plus 13 each from Marko Scekic and Vladimir Dragicevic. A 44-32 disadvantage in rebounds and mediocre 17-for-26 free throw shooting both hurt Buducnost in a series decided in the end by 3 points.
Knowing it needed to win by 6 points or more, Asvel followed Jefferson's strong start to an early 11-3 lead after a three-point play by Hammonds. Their next 4 points boosted the hosts' edge to 15-6 before Filip Barovic and Nikola Otasevic closed the gap to Buducnost with three-pointers. Jefferson and Paul Lacombe kept Asvel ahead 21-16 after 10 minutes. Asvel used strong defense to try to run away in the second quarter, and went up by 6 points on a three-point play by Zizic at 28-22. Soon, Mickael Gelabale and Bangaly Fofana found points where there were few, letting Asvel escape on the scoreboard to 33-25 at halftime.
Vassalo, scoreless in the first half, changed that quickly in the second, with 5 points in consecutive possessions to forge the game's first double-digit lead, 38-27. The Asvel defense had Buducnost stymied as the lead climbed to 42-30, but Skekic emerged to revive the visitors with his own five-point burst. Asvel felt the scoring drought now as free throws got Buducnost within 47-41. Vassallo broke the spell with a triple for a 50-41 Asvel lead after 30 minutes. His next layup made it 54-43, but just then, Sehovic exploded for Buducnost with back-to-back three-pointers to make it 54-49 - in other words, a tie series - with 7 minutes left. Lacombe immediately steadied the hosts with a long-distance blast, then his three-point play the hard way and free throws by Hammonds made it 64-51. But Buducnost was not finished, not even when down 67-54 in the next-to-last minute. Sehovic lit the spark with another triple as he and Skekic lowered the difference to 67-61. After several free throws, the same duo - Sehovic to Skekic this time - combined on a layup at the buzzer to make it 70-65, a tie series, forcing overtime.
Asvel went back to Jefferson and Hammonds to re-take an 11-point lead, 77-66, early in OT. Sehovic would not be denied, however, and another pair of his triples had Buducnost as close as 81-72. Only free throws were shot after that, however, and Vassalo proved good enough on the foul line to finally wrest away the series for Asvel.
Friday, September 24, 2010