Spirou Basket seized first place in Group F with both hands on Tuesday by outgunning host PGE Turow 61-86 just a week after the latter had set the competition's single-game defensive record. Spirou raised its record to 2-0 and more importantly won on the road by a big margin against a Final Eight team from a year ago, Turow, which fell to 1-1. On the first shot after halftime, Spirou led 31-41 and had already eclipsed the 39 points to which Turow had held Brose Baskets while breaking the defensive record a week earlier. Spirou didn't stop there, widening its leads to a high of 28 points in the third quarter while cruising to victory. Jerry Johnson led the winners with 17 points, while Len Matela had another big game with 13 and 7 rebounds off the bench. The key to Spirou's scoring, however, was variety, as seven other players put in between 5 and 9 points. Damir Miljkovic led Turow with 17 points, while Donald Copland had 14, Chris Daniels and John Turek 9 each. Spirou dominated on the boards, 25 to 35, while hitting 65% of its two-point shots thanks to good ball movement leading to 15 assists, 5 of those by Justin Hamilton.
It looked like a another defensive battle when neither team scored for 3 minutes to start the game and Robert Witka's triple put Turow ahead first. Soon, however, Hamilton and Jure Lalic got Spirou rolling and old standby Andre Riddick got to the line against Turow's zone for a free throw to double the hosts on the scoreboard 5-10. It was a sign of things to come. Copeland answered with a pump-faked triple at 8-10 but Johnson copied him at 8-13 for Spirou lead. Miljkovic and Dwayne Broyles exchanged driving baskets, and after a Turow timeout, Hamilton buried a triple to put the guests up 12-19 on the way to a 15-21 lead after 10 minutes. Turow seemed to tighten its "D" again to start the second quarter, limiting Spriou to single shots until creeping within 20-24. Then, however, Riddick got to the line for another free throw, ended up with the rebound of his missed second attempt, slam-dunked and was fouled again, finishing a four-point possesion with another foul shot at 20-28. Next, Walsh stole and scored on a fastbreak to make it 20-30 and force another Turow timeout. That didn't stop Spirou, which raced ahead 22-36 before Miljkovic and Witka popped three-pointers to lower the difference to single digits. When Matela finished the half with a reverse, however, Spirou had a 31-39 lead and as many points as Turow had allowed Brose Baskets the entire previous game.
Broyles helped break the game open for Spirou with a pair of layups that restored the visitors' double-digit lead at 32-43 right after the half. By the time Johnson canned a triple, Hamilton a layup and Matela a three-point play, Spirou's run was 1-12 and its lead 32-51. The visitors were looking like the record-breaking defenders now, holding Turow to 3 free throws through the first 5 minutes of the third quarter. Chris Daniels stopped the bleeding for Turow, but Johnson's next basket-plus-free throw put the lead at 20 points, 36-56. It went back and forth until Wes Wilkinson started a new 0-11 run with a layup-and-triple combo as Spirou exploded in front by 28 points, 43-71 after three quarters. The last quarter was more than a formality as Spirou sought to cement its great work in the first three and Turow knew the points difference could easily affect its survival later. No matter: Matela, Johnson and Pankracije Barac matched Turow basket for basket while Lalic added a late triple to give Spirou one of its biggest European road wins ever, by 25 points that could mean everything before the regular season is over.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008