In an all-out, basket-for-basket battle to open Week 2 of the Eurocup Regular Season, visiting Le Mans Sarthe Basket surged to an 80-89 road win over VEF Riga on Tuesday to force a tie between them in Group C. After 12 ties and 16 lead changes, Le Mans took over for good with a 2-10 run early in the fourth quarter to raise its record to 1-1, the same as Riga. Big man J.P. Batista led the winners with 22 points, while Pape Sy and Khalid El-Amin followed with 13 each, while Charles Kahudi popped 12 more. Le Mans made the difference with 25-for-42 shooting inside the arc (59%) as Batiste made 8 of 9 two-pointers himself. Riga got 23 points from Kaspars Berzins, 16 from Dairis Bertans, 14 from Kristaps Janicenoks and 11 from Will Daniels. But after taking a 67-66 lead early in the final quarter, the hosts gave it up on the next possession and couldn't get closer than 77-80 with 2:45 to play, when El-Amin's triple for Le Mans ended the threat.
The teams matched each other basket for basket until a three-point play by Janicenoks of Riga was topped by consecutive layups from Charles Kahudi and Batista for Le Mans at 9-10, the first lead for the visitors. Batista pushed that higher, to 11-14, with his team's next 4 points. E.J. Rowland and Janicenoks took the lead back for Riga at 17-14, while Charles Kahudi and Cameron Long did the same for Le mans at 19-21. But after 4 ties and 4 lead changes, one more was in store, with Bertans striking from long range to put Riga in front again, 22-21, after 10 minutes. The back-and-forth continued in the second quarter, with big men Alain Koffi, Sy and Cuthbert Victory putting Le Mans ahead twice, at 24-25 and 28-29. Berzins bombed Riga to the top again, 31-29. By midway through the quarter, the teams had already exceeded the 4 ties and lead changes from the first as Henri Kahudi's 5 consecutive points on a layup and a triple got Le Mans up 35-38, but neither team was giving in. Berzins and Daniels shot Riga to a 42-40 lead, but that didn't hold either, as Dounia Issa appeared with 2 free throws for the game's 11th tie, 42-42, at the break.
Although another lead change and tie started the second half, Le Mans surged ahead with a 2-10 run in which Batista hit a pair of baskets. And when El-Amin downed a triple, the visitors were up 46-55. Riga struck back, however, with 3 consecutive triples - two by Janicenoks and one by Bertans - to get within 57-61. By the time Daniels joined them from the arc, the difference was down to 62-65. A free throw by Long let Le Mans hold onto a 62-66 lead after 30 minutes, but Berzins reappeared with another triple early in the fourth to resume the lead changes, with Riga now up 67-66. Koffi, Batista and Henri Kahudi answered with a 0-6 run for Le Mans. Charles Kahudi joined in with a triple to make it 69-76 as the Le Mans defense completed almost 5 minutes holding Riga to just 3 free throws. Bertans changed that with a layup at 72-78 with still 4 minutes remaining. When Berzins blasted another triple and Rowland a layup, the difference was down to 77-80. That's when El-Amin stepped up with a huge three-pointer, while Batista and Koffi added layups to make it 79-87 with 39 seconds left, too little for Riga to mount another comeback as Le Mans took home a valuable road victory.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012