LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne did not enter its Round 7 game in the best situation. It was missing Paul Lacombe and Guerschon Yabulese and the team as a whole was not in top form yet after missing three consecutive EuroLeague games due to COVID-19 absences. After losing in its return to action last week against Zalgiris Kaunas, ASVEL traveled to a city that had been nothing but forbidden territory for French teams for the better part of the last four decades.
TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz was on a 16-game winning streak against French teams in Vitoria. Its only previous loss to a French club at home came against ASVEL on October 30, 1985. Baskonia, then called Caja de Alava for sponsorship reasons, still played in Pabellon Polideportivo de Mendizorroza, which hosted the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation tournament at the 2019 Final Four. That day, ASVEL beat Baskonia 84-94 behind 32 points from Norris Bell. Terry White led Baskonia with 24 points. Current Baskonia president Josean Querejeta and Real Madrid head coach Pablo Laso, who was 18 back then, scored 10 points apiece in that game.
ASVEL was the first French team to play in Vitoria and walked away with a win. After that, SLUC Nancy, Pau-Orthez and ASVEL lost three times each, Limoges did it twice while Antibes, Cholet, PSG, Strasbourg and Le Mans also registered losses against Baskonia in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
ASVEL, however, broke this negative streak behind an outstanding Moustapha Fall, who dominated the paint and allowed ASVEL to be competitive. He finished the game with 19 points on 8-of-9 two-point shooting plus 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 6 fouls drawn for a personal-best performance index rating of 26.
Even though ASVEL led almost all the way, Baskonia rallied from a double-digit deficit in the final 4 minutes to get within 85-86 in the final seconds. Charles Kahudi hit free throws and ASVEL waited to foul Vildoza with just 2.5 seconds left. He intentionally missed his second attempt. When Antoine Diot pulled down the defensive rebound, ASVEL knew it had won the game.
Diot offered his best version, finishing the game with 15 points and matching career-highs in rebounds (5) and assists (7) for a personal-best PIR of 23. "We played as a team and that is why we won tonight," Diot said. "We are a good team and need to believe it. We need to trust each other on defense and offense. We did it tonight and with a win, it is better."
ASVEL snapped a three-game losing streak and registered its first win of the 2020-21 EuroLeague season. It will play five of its next six games at the Astroballe, so this win could be a turnaround point for the French powerhouse.
"I think that the team made a great effort. A great effort. It has not been easy for us with this COVID situation, coming to Vitoria and getting a win," ASVEL head coach TJ Parker said after the win. "The guys really deserved it, they work hard every day in practice, so well-deserved."