Charleroi of Belgium ruined the party to mark the first European game ever in Lleida, Spain on Tuesday by downing the home team, Caprabo, 72-76, to go 2-0 atop Group D. Though the result wasn't a good gift for the home fans, they saw a great game, close throughout, despite the visitors signalling their intentions by running off to an early 8-20 lead. Neither team could break the game open, however, until Andre Riddick scored the last, with 22 seconds left from under the basket, to give the Belgians the road win. Riddick led the guests with 15 points and 8 blocks, Roger Huggins added 14 points and Marcus Faison contributed 12. For the hosts, Roger Grimau was the best man on court with 26 points, including an amazing 19 of 19 free throws, which at the very least is a record in the two-week history of the ULEB Cup. A.J. Bramlett, with 10 points, was the only other scorer in double figures for LLeida, which falls to 0-2.
The game started with a dunk by Michael Ruffin, but soon, Charleroi hit back with an 0-7 tear capitalizing on Lleida turnovers. The Belgians continued to outplay their hosts while building an 8-20 lead. From that point, Lleida started reacting, and the comeback that made it a great game came in the form of a 15-2 run culminated with basket by Sergio Ramos, for a 23-22 score, early in the second quarter. Niether team shot well from deep, going a combined 0-for-9 from beyond the arc to that point. The overall shooting percentages were rather poor, and points were hard to come by for several minutes. Two free throws put Charleroi ahead again 24-27 with 2 minutes to go until the half. The hosts switched to a zone press defense to force the long-range shots of the guests. Grimau put Lleida back ahead, also from the free throw line, 28-27, as the lead went back and forth. It was Lleida that fell on the positive side at the break, taking a 32-31 edge.
After resumption, Charleroi stomped back on court to roll out a 0-9 run that put the Belgians in charge at 32-40 and forced a Lleida timeout. With 5 minutes to go in the period, Roel Moors was called an unsportsmanlike foul, his third, that helped Lleida get back into the game, 40-42, after a three by Grimau. On the very next play, Moors was called for a technical foul. Grimau hit his 11th free throw of the night for 41-42, then Johnny Rogers drained a jumper for a 43-42 Lleida lead. Charleroi had problems attacking the zone defense of the Spaniards. Both teams were forced by the other to take difficult shots in the last seconds of each and every posession. Jacques Stas hit his first three after 4 attempts as Charleroi inched ahead 47-48 after three quarters. Early in the fourth, a little brawl with Roger Huggins provoked a technical foul called on Lleida coach Edu Torres, which combined with three more free throws from a previous play, allowed Charleroi to shoot 5 times from the free throw line plus retain possession. When the smoke cleared from the mess, the score was 51-54. Alberto Angulo then hit 5 almost consecutive points to tie the game at 56. Charleroi pulled away again 61-65, but a three by veteran Rogers put the hosts back in the game. Grimau was hot from the free throw line by nailing his 19th of 19, but the Belgians took control for good on Riddick's shot with 22 seconds to go, they were ahead for good, 67-74.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002