LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne returns to action on Thursday to host league-leader Zalgiris Kaunas. ASVEL is back after missing three games due to COVID-19 infections at the club and it will seek its first win of the season. Zalgiris will look to bounce back after suffering its first loss, 82-94, at home against Valencia Basket. The Lithuanian champs are undefeated in three road games this season.
Zalgiris center Joffrey Lauvergne returns to his native country to take on might Moustapha Fall in an intriguing battle in the paint. Fall was superb to start the season with 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks for ASVEL. At 2.18 meters, he has a distinct size advantage over Lauvergne (2.11), but the latter will combat him with his quick feet and a bevy of low-post moves, making this an exciting duel to keep an eye on.
Zalgiris has won four of its last five games between these sides, including a sweep last season. Zalgiris's 74-79 victory in Round 22 was the team's first road win over ASVEL. Lukas Lekavicius scored 21 points off the bench to lead the winners.
Keys to victory: ASVEL
After such a long time away from the court, ASVEL will be highly motivated but also perhaps out of rhythm. ASVEL averaged a mere 68.0 points in its first two games on 27.7% three-point shooting with 16.0 turnovers, so getting points against a tough Zalgiris side will be a challenge. Getting the team's would-be shooters and scorers such as Norris Cole, Charles Kahudi, David Lighty and Allerik Freeman going early is vital to ASVEL's chances.
Keys to victory: Zalgiris
Zalgiris scored 84 points in Round 5, but was beaten because it was outrebounded by 10 and allowed its opponents to score 94 points on excellent shooting percentages. Joffrey Lauvergne, Nigel Hayes and Augustine Rubit will be charged with locking down the boards in Villeurbanne and the team as a whole can be expected to play with more defensive aggressiveness to get back on the winning track.