Milan fights back to down ASVEL in thriller
AX Armani Exchange Milan stayed perfect in thrilling fashion by overcoming LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 73-72 in an exciting battle that went to the final shot at Mediolanum Forum. ASVEL dominated the first half, leading 26-40 at the break and 26-42 at the start of the third quarter. But Milan battled back with a 14-2 run and kept pushing to tie it up 51-51 at the end of the third. The final quarter was back and forth until the last minute when Devon Hall struck a triple for Milan before David Lighty and Charles Kahudi missed on the final possession for ASVEL. Shavon Shields paced Milan with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Nicolo Melli added 14 points, Malcolm Delaney scored 12 and Giampaolo Ricci 10 for the winners. Elie Okobo had a fantastic game for ASVEL, scoring 25 points, but Chris Jones was the only other ASVEL player in double digits, with 12 points.
Youssoupha Fall dunked hard for the opening basket before Delaney’s mid-range jumper got Milan moving. Jones scored 5 fast points in a row to get ASVEL back in front as the defenses dominated, with Fall scoring inside to make it 6-9 midway through the first. Okobo added a floater and Dylan Osetkowski hit from deep for an 8-15 lead, but Milan responded as Sergio Rodriguez conjured a magical feed for Kyle Hines, Gigi Datome nailed a long two and Hines scored inside again to make it 14-17 at the end of the first.
James Gist opened the second quarter with a three and William Howard added another for a 16-23 lead. Ricci answered with Milan’s first triple, but Jones continued the three-point party before Paul Lacombe scored in transition to make it 19-28. Shields got Milan’s first field goal in nearly 4 minutes, but Osetkowski made another triple as ASVEL opened a double-digit lead, 23-34. Kostas Antetekounmpo added an explosive alley-oop and Okobo beat the halftime buzzer for a 26-40 lead.
Gist’s jumper started the second-half scoring, but Delaney bettered that with a three and Shields twice struck from mid-range before Melli hit from deep and then inside. Datome capped a 14-2 run, reducing the deficit to 40-44 as ASVEL went nearly 5 minutes without scoring. Antoine Diot and Okobo tried to keep ASVEL ahead, but Rodriguez scored twice and Melli beat the third-quarter buzzer from deep to tie the game at 51-51.
Ricci opened the final period with a triple for Milan’s first lead, but Okobo scored 7 points in a row to make it 54-58. Melli’s tip-in ended that charge, but Okobo struck again with a step-back three. Four consecutive three-pointers followed, with Delaney and Ricci hitting for Milan while Kahudi netted twice for ASVEL, making it 62-67 with 4 minutes left. Shields got a layup-and-one, added a three-pointer for another tie, 69-69, and then split free throws for a 70-69 edge with 100 seconds on the clock. Okobo again struck from deep, but Devon Hall matched that for a 73-72 lead. ASVEL had two chances to win in, but Lighty’s triple was off the mark and Kahudi couldn’t convert the rebound as time expired.
Milan’s first-half defensive woes
Against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne's energetic defense, AX Armani Exchange Milan desperately struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first half of Thursday’s game. The home team only made 2 of its first 12 field goal attempts, going 2-of-10 from two-point range and missing a pair of three-point attempts. After rallying towards the end of the first quarter, Milan then entered another offensive decline and failed to score any field goals in nearly 4 minutes during a horrible run midway through the second quarter to fall behind by double digits, and ended up scoring only 26 points in the first half.
Decisive drama in the final seconds
The last two possessions of Thursday's game provided memorable drama. Trailing 70-72, AX Armani Exchange Milan had the ball and Shavon Shields attempted to continue his fine performance with a driving layup. It was off the mark but Kyle Hines grabbed the rebound and fed Devon Hall, who struck a three-pointer for the lead. ASVEL took the ball to the other end and Elie Okobo wriggled away from pressure to feed David Lighty in the corner, but his three-pointer from the corner rimmed out and Charles Kahudi couldn’t quite put away the rebound.
Okobo an unlucky loser for ASVEL
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne guard Elie Okobo was very unlucky to end up on the losing team after producing a scintillating performance, especially in the fourth quarter when he nearly succeeded in holding off Milan’s charge single-handedly. After Milan had roared back from 16 points down to take the lead with the first basket on the final period, Okobo went off for 10 points in just over 3 minutes to grab a 5-point lead that ultimately wasn’t quite enough. He finished with 25 points on 8-of-12 two-point shooting and 3-of-4 on threes.
Thursday, October 21, 2021