The number 37 has been a special one for LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne so far this season. It signifies a major new trust that head coach TJ Parker has quickly developed, and has helped the French club surge to a 2-0 record to start the season.
So what does this 37 represent? The combined number of points that Chris Jones and Elie Okobo have scored in both of the team’s wins.
A week after Okobo poured in 23 points and Jones had 14 in an opening night victory over Zalgiris Kaunas in Round 1, on Friday night it was Jones's turn to lead the scoring with 24 points while Okobo pitched in 13 points in ASVEL’s 67-71 road victory over ALBA Berlin.
"Elie Okobo and Chris Jones are the top two choices to run the backcourt this year in ASVEL. I have full confidence in them," Parker said after the Zalgiris game.
Both guards talked after that game about the bond that is forming between them, and it showed again in Round 2 in the German capital. They both know how to take games over for significant stretches, demonstrated when Okobo scored 6 straight points in a big 0-13 run which turned ALBA’s 24-17 lead into a 24-30 ASVEL advantage.
And it was Jones who shined in the fourth quarter. His two layups pushed the lead out to 43-57 early in the final frame. ALBA tried to come back and twice got the deficit to 7 points, only for Jones to drain three-pointers each time. The host still refused to give up and the gap was down to 6 points with just more than 2 minutes left when Jones knocked down another long three-pointer. And he then finished off the game for good with 2 free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining.
"We believe in each other. We have confidence. We’re trying to build something right now," said Jones after the road win.
To this point, ASVEL’s guards have built a pretty strong connection which is showing to be the key to the team’s undefeated start. While both can light up the scoreboard in bunches, it might be a big ask for Jones and Okobo to combine for 37 points each game. But it has worked out that way so far. Next up? No less than reigning champion and so far winless Anadolu Efes Istanbul, at home on Tuesday.