The fight for the final Last 16 berth out of Group A remains as close as possible after Le Mans Sarthe Basket took the latest battle 67-59 over visiting Banvit BK on Tuesday, but not by enough points to win the war yet. Le Mans raised its record to 3-2, good for a hold on second place with one game left in the regular season. Banvit fell to 2-3, but since each has beaten the other by 8 points, a potential third tie-breaker is still possible. Le Mans visits already eliminated EWE Baskets Oldenburg (1-4) and Banvit hosts first-place (4-1) Unics next week. Le Mans will advance if it wins, but should it lose and Banvit win, their point difference over the six games of group play will decide the winner. On Tuesday, they went back and forth all game before Antoine Diot led a charge in the fourth quarter by Le Mans. Diot paced the winners with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Alain Koffi followed with 12 points and 7 rebounds while Charles Kahudi had 9 points and 3 steals. Antonio Graves paced Banvit with 17 points, while Vladimir Golubovic followed with 13 points and 7 rebounds.
Baris Ermis and Keith Simmons gave Banvit a quick 0-4 lead that matched the biggest of a first quarter dotted by five lead changes and as many ties. The big swing was a 0-7 run sparked by 5 points from Yigitcan Turna, who helped Banvit go up 11-15. No sooner had that happened, however, than Marc-Antoine Pellin hit free throws and then fed Michailis Kakiouzis for a triple that meant a 16-15 advantage for Le Mans. Graves had the last word however, keeping the guests ahead 16-17 after 10 minutes. Le Mans opened the second quarter seizing its biggest advantage yet, 23-19, on triples by Kahudi and Ben Dewar. Golubovic revived Banvit now, and Turna forced another lead change, only to see J.P. Batista take it back with free throws at 26-25. Two more ties ensued before Graves dunked and Simmons finished a three-point play to make it 29-33. The visitors were not done, though, as Graves and Golubovic finished the half strong to give Banvit a 32-38 lead at the break.
Diot and Koffi teamed up for 8 points to quickly get Le Mans back into the game with a 40-40 tie early in the second half. Kahudi and Dewar then seized a 44-40 lead for the hosts, whose defense was now stifling Banvit. Graves ended the visitors' drought and soon the scoreboard was changing again as Golubovic tied and Bora Hun Pacun buried a go-ahead triple that let Banvit retain its lead, 46-47 after three quarters. Le Mans kept its comeback momentum, however, with Diot bombing from deep for a new 51-47 lead. When Graves pulled Banvit to within 51-50, Diot did it again, and soon his free throws and triple by Kahudi was making for the first double-digit advantage of the game, 61-51, which would have been good enough for Le Mans to advance. Le Mans couldn't protect all of it, however, so now must win again or hope that Banvit loses, in order to reach the Last 16!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010