Elan Chalon's 91-85 home win against RheinEnergie of Cologne in Group C on Tuesday sent a team to the next round, but it was not the winners. RheinEnergie may be now tied for second place, two weeks after being tied for first, but leader Krka Novo Mesto's victory over Trieste earlier Tuesday helped put the German team through to the next round. That's because in any potential tie with Chalon or Trieste, RheinEnergie has an advantage, having beaten the former by more points and the latter in both their meetings. None of that was on Chalon's mind, however, as it took over with a 15-point difference in the middle quarters but had to wait until late to finally shake off the visitors. Chalon, which rises to 3-5 in the standings for a fourth-place tie with Trieste, was led by Casey Calvary, who scored 19 points. He was followed by Wilhem Laure with 16, Stanley Jackson (13), Dragan Vukcevic and Tim Nees (12 each) and Udonis Haslem (10). Young guard Mickael Mokongo's 7 points also factored into the outcome. Cologne, whose record falls 5-3, had 22 points by top scorer Geert Hammink, 21 by Sasa Obradovic and 13 by Clint Harrison.
Great defense came from both teams at the beginning, as score was just 4-4 after 5 minutes, just before the foul troubles that hit Mokongo, Haslem and Jackson of Chalon. Without captain Laurent Pluvy in the backcourt, Cologne put more pressure on defense, trying to push up the tempo of the game and to force hosts, of course young Mokongo, to make mistakes. Chalon had plenty of difficulties in the first quarter, and RheinEnergie could took a five-point lead, 10-15, after 7 minutes. Obradovic was the engine for guests, leading his team to a first quarter of 16-21 lead with 9 points in 10 minutes. Chalon reacted in the second period and set important 7-0 run early in the quarter to tie the score 23-23, led by Calvary, who had 13 points after 20 minutes on 5-for-5 shooting, with 5 rebounds. Chalon had its own five-point lead by halftime, 42-37, thanks to good shooting percentage after a difficult start.
After intermission, young Mokongo sank 5 key points in a row to make it 47-39. Cologne didn't surrender, as 3 three-pointers from big man Geert Hammink kep his team in the game. Laure had a good contribution for the hosts working the post, which was the key for the big 9-0 run that gave Chalon a double-digit lead before the end of the third period, 70-55. Obradovic ripped off 5 consecutive points for the guests in the last 22 seconds, which reduced the gap to 72-60 after 30 minutes. Cologne tried to come back in the last quarter with Clint Harrison's contribution and got as close as 72-65 with 8 minutes to play. But Calvary made huge dunk that opened a new run for hosts to 82-69. Cologne made the last attempt with Christian Mehrens' 7 points and switched to zone defense to again cut the deficit to 6 points, 84-78 with 2 minutes to play. But Vukcevic nailed a triple that cancelled the Germans' hopes at 87-78 and gave the Coliseé Arena fans the last home win of the year 2002.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002