Adecco Asvel Basket of France is back in the Group D hunt again thanks to a resounding 77-88 road win at Telindus Oostende of Belgium. As such, Asvel erased the black mark of a home loss the previous week and now sits at 2-2, in the middle of a group that looks less and less predictable. Asvel's victory was doubly sweet as it came with big contributions from much-needed players. Yann Bonato led his team with 19 points while Tim Nees had 18 points and 9 rebounds. For Oostende, 16 points from Andrius Geidraitis and 15 from Ralph Biggs were not enough to avoid a fourth straight loss.
From the start, Asvel seemed to want to win more. Asvel started much better, leading 18-30 after the first quarter and 31-48 at half time. The key in that first half was no doubt inside. Virginius Praskevicus got to the basket for a few points to give Oostende and early 12-9 lead, but that only reminded Asvel to pack in its defense. From that point on, Oostende had no choice but to try from outside. The basket area became the property of Asvel and in particular of Tim Nees, who reeled off 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. And as no one managed to keep him, Nikola Radulovic (10 points), Nikola Vujcic (10 points) and Yann Bonato (9 points) got liberties to launch Asvel to what seemed to be an very easy victory. Because Ostende was nowhere. Dominated inside, its defense was an open door.
Fouls would prove decisive during the second half. No less than four players were eliminated: three for Asvel (Radulovic, Nees and Thalamus Mc Ghee at 68-79) and one for Ostende (Praskevicius, for the third time this season). But the important fact at that point was the fourth foul of Ralph Biggs. By that time, Oostende had rallied from a high deficit of 33-52 to 58-66 after three periods due as young Gerrit Major, helped by Christophe Beghin, Giedraitis and Teo Cizmic, brought hope of a comeback to the home fans.
So the game seemed open again at the beginning of the last quarter, and strangely Oostende was coming back without Praskevicius and Biggs. This last one tried then to force the decision, Ostende coming back till 64-69. Major, who was playing great, was substituted by Eric Elliott, and soon Asvel went away 64-79 thanks to captain Yann Bonato who took over. Even if Nees and Mc Ghee still were eliminated after, the game was over.
Wednesday, October 31, 2001