Using its big men's experience and a nuetral court to its advantage, Le Mans Sarthe Basket opened the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds with a good-as-gold 72-78 road win over BK Banvit in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday. The teams will play a re-match in France on Friday in which Le Mans need only to avoid losing by six or more points in order to reach the second qualifying round. Banvit, which played the game a couple hundred kilometers from its home in Bandirma, fell victim to the veteran big men of Le Mans. The trio of J.P Batista, Thierry Rupert and Alain Koffi had 18, 14 and 10 points respectively while helping Le Mans to a 20-29 advantage in rebounding. Six other Le Mans players scored between 5 and 7 points, while Marc Antoine Pellin came off the bench to dish 7 assists. For Banvit, guard Baris Ermis tallied 15 points and was followed by teenage shooter Safak Edge with 13 and 5 assists. Chuck Davis added 12 points, Mutlu Akpinar and Lance Williams 11 each.
Visiting center Koffi stole the ball and dunked for opening points of the game - and the 2010-11 season. Batista followed him with 6 consecutive points to give Le Mans a quick 4-8 advantage. Henri Kahudi extended the lead of the French side to 6-11 with the game's first three-point shot. Banvit reacted with some zone pressure on defense and used that to spark a 7-0 run dominated by Davis and Ermis. A jumper from the post by Davis gave Banvit its first lead at 13-11, but Le Mans responded with a 6-9 finish to the quarter as Ryvon Covile's layup on the buzzer left the visitors in front again, 17-20 after 10 minutes. Banvit, which had started the game without the key players like Keith Simmons and Baris Ozcan, both injured, also lost new signing Antonio Graves to calf injury in the game's fifth minute. Without his offense, Banvit suffered from the strong inside game of Le Mans, which now added some outside scoring to take control of the scoreboard in the second quarter. Rupert and Batista downed jumpers that pushed the visitors' edge to 9 points, 25-34, after 15 minutes. Banvit stayed alive with a triple by teenage guard Edge to reduce the difference to 33-38 at halftime.
Banvit kept chasing in the third quarter but Le Mans proved too clever to catch. The French side moved the ball fast - with Pellin collecting more and more assists - to stay a step ahead of the hosts. Edge shortened the distance with a layup for Banvit at 41-46, Pellin responded with 5 unanswered points of his pown. The Le Mans lead reached double digits for the second time at 43-53 on a jumper by Antoine Diot. Banvit tried to chip away, getting points from Williams and Bora Hun Pacun in what was left of the third quarter before free throws by Ibrahim Yildirim made it 53-60 after 30 minutes. Chuck Davis opened the last quarter with a layup to get Banvit within 55-60, but again Le Mans reacted, with a 0-6 run that finished with a basket by Alex Acker for a 55-66 scoreboard. The Rupert-Batista duo keep finding easy points in the paint while Banvit tried to stay close with triples by Akpinar and Ermis. With under 4 minutes left, Edge stole and scored for another five-point approach, 67-72, but Le Mans responded again with fastbreak layups by by Kofi and Diot to keep control. Safak made another move with a new triple in the final minute, while Batista's last jumper fixed a 72-78 final for both teams to consider before Friday's re-match.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010