A defensive battle of wills ended with Aris TT Bank still undefeated and sharing first place in Group B after outlasting host Le Mans Sarthe Basket 66-69 in France on Thursday. Aris raised its record to 2-0 and ties Lietuvos Rytas for first place in the group, while Le Mans fell to 0-2 by a grand total of six points in two games. Aris dictaded a slow tempo throughout the game and built a double-digit lead at halftime. Le Mans chipped away until tying in the last quarter but could never turn the corner against the take-no-prisoners Aris defense. Reyshawn Terry led the winners with 16 points, while Bracey Wright used a perfect 10-for-10 accuracy from the foul line to reach 15 and Hanno Mottola added 11. Luka Bogdanovic paced Le Mans with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Nicolas Batum added 13 points, Sam Clancy 12 and Raviv Limonad 11.
Mottola and Jeremiah Massey went inside to give Aris an early 0-4 advantage as Le Mans suffered misses until Antoine Diot fed Clancy for an easy dunk. Dimitrios Tsaldaris answered for Aris with the game's first triple at 3-7. Batum sparked Le Mans now with a fastbreak alley-oop slam then scored in the lane to set up Clancy's go-ahead hook at 8-7. Wright's first free throws got the lead back for Aris, but in response, Bogdanovic rained a triple on the shot-clock buzzer for Le Mans. Batum came up with a big block that led to Phil Ricci making 1 of 2 free throws for a 12-9 Le Mans lead, but Aris quickly regained the advantage as Terrell Castle went backdoor and Terry hit free throws. Another lead change ensued as Bogdanovic hit his second triple and Yannick Bokolo drove for a basket. Kalaitzis got the triple back for Aris, but Batum stuffed a rebound to keep Le Mans up 19-16 after 10 minutes.
Wright got Aris started with the first basket of the second quarter and soon added free throws to open the door for Giorgios Kalaitzis to claim the lead at 21-23 with a triple for the visitors. Mottola added free throws to that, and despite Ricci's post-up shot to make it 23-25, the Aris defense was starting to take Le Mans out of the game. Wright rained the next shot from way downtown and Mottola copied him from the wing to mak it 23-31 before a dry spell seized both teams. Wright and Lazaros Agadakos added 3 free throws to the Aris lead before Clancy dunked to save Le Mans. Aris got its biggest lead, however, as Castle fired a triple from the corner and Terry dunked on the break to set the scoreboard at 27-39 for halftime.
The Le Mans comeback started with Bogdanovic scoring on an offensive rebound to start the second half and Bokolo twisting for his own basket. Limonad came on and sparked the hosts by feeding Bogdanovic going back-door and then stealing and laying up himself at 35-42. Mottola scored from the post for Aris before Bogdanovic buried a new triple and then dunked off a steal to make it 40-44. Castle hit for Aris, but now it was Clancy scoring twice in a row for Le Mans, his tip-in making it 44-48. Aris stayed a step ahead alwasy, with Wright and Terry answering free throws by Batum and Limonad before the latter finished the quarter with a drive to leave a close 49-52 scoreboard after 30 minutes.
Clancy got Le Mans as close as it had come in a long time with a bucket to start the final quarter, but missed the game-tying free throw attempt. Limonad soon made sure, however, with a triple to even the score at 54-54, but Terry didn't let Le Mans take the lead as he hung in the air for a layup-plus-free throw to restor the Aris advantage. The visitors' lock-down defense allowed only a couple free throws over the next minutes, but neither could Aris score itself, leaving a 56-59 scoreboard going into the last 5 minutes. Alain Koffi broke the spell with a basket in close that made it 58-59, but next, Wright got back to the line for his seventh and eighth perfect free throws of the night. Batum matched him for Le Mans before Terry landed a back-breaking triple at 60-64 with 3 minutes left. Two times after that, Limonad cut the difference to a single basket, but when Bogdanovic tried a go-ahead triple entering the final minute, the rebound went to Terry, who got hurt on a foul. Kalaitzis took his free throws, hitting 1 of 2, before Le Mans looked one last time to break through the Aris defense. Limonad got close, but his inside pass became a turnover and Le Mans ended up fouling the wrong guy, Wright, whose last perfect free throws sealed his team's place at the top of Group B for at least another week.
Thursday, November 1, 2007