Le Mans Sarthe Basket picked up its first win of the 2007-08 Euroleague season by downing Cibona Zagreb 100-87 on Wednesday night at Antares Arena. Luka Bogdanovic, Phil Ricci and Raviv Limonad shined bright as Le Mans led from start to finish to avoind becoming only the second team to go through a Euroleague 14-game regular season without a victory. The result dropped Cibona to 4-9 and delivered a critical blow to the club’s hopes of reaching the Top 16. Le Mans started the game with Sam Clancy leading the hosts to 10 unanswered points. Another 10-0 run in the second period gave Le Mans a 58-41 halftime lead. The advantage would reach 26 points before Damir Mulaomerovic and Sam Hoskin led Cibona on a 0-11 charge. Marin also stepped up for the visitors as Le Mans lost its touch. Tre Kelley got the Croatian champs within 85-79 with a free throw, but Ricci came up big when needed, drawing an unsportsmanlike foul from Hoskin, dunking on the resulting possession and then sealing the win with a three-point play with a minute to go as the Le Mans fans enjoyed the show. Ricci finished with a season-high 21 points, while Bogdanovic matched his career-high with the same total. Limonad added 20 points and 9 assists and Clancy scored 13 for the victors. Hoskin led Cibona with 22 points and 15 rebounds, Chris Warren finished with 17 points, Mulaomerovic had 16 and Larry Ayuso 10.
Le Mans won the opening tip and went to work as Nicolas Batum fed Clancy for a two-handed slam. While the visitors tried to settle down on offense, Clancy stormed through the middle in transition for a layup-plus foul. Clancy went from scorer to provider feeding Ricci for an open three as the hosts took total control. Yannick Bokolo added a jumper before Cibona, which had already committed 5 turnovers, finally got on the board through a Mulaomerovic triple nearly four minutes into the game. Once Cibona ended the drought, another three-pointer from Ayuso and Hoskin free throws brought the visitors back within 12-8. Batum provided a highlight with a steal and a high-flying slam and Bokolo also impressed with a baseline jam, but Vedran Vukusic fed Hoskin for an easy bucket to keep it close. A Bogdanovic steal – Le Mans’s sixth of the period – led to a Limonad triple and then Alain Koffi scored in the paint to give the hosts a 28-17 advantage after 10 minutes.
Hoskin scored another efficient basket inside for the guests, before a three-point contest broke out, with Bogdanovic drilling a pair for the hosts, while Ayuso and Warren answered for Cibona. Ayuso added a circus shot in the paint and Warren hit a long jumper to get Cibona within 37-29. This time Limonad drilled a triple to keep Le Mans comfortably ahead. Limonad’s third three of the half – matching his season-high – and a later Ricci free throw put the hosts up 15. Luksa Andric and Hoskin got Cibona within 11 and looking to climb back, but the hosts had other plans. Bogdanovic and Ricci scored 4 points apiece as Le Mans reeled off 10 straight points to take a commanding 21-point lead. However an unsportsmanlike foul on Antoine Diot for grabbing Mulaomerovic’s arm in the closing seconds led to 4 points for the veteran Cibona guard to make t 58-41 at halftime.
A three-point play by Ricci to start the third quarter set the tone as Le Mans was determined to keep fighting to ensure picking up that elusive first win. Bogdanovic fired in another triple before a Clancy basket-plus-foul made it 68-43. Tre Kelley got on the scoreboard with a triple for Cibona, but Ricci swatted Andric’s attempt leading to a Batum fast break slam that delighted the fans. Mulaomerovic scored 5 straight points and then Hoskin hit back-to-back triples as Cibona pieced together a 0-11 surge to try and get back in the game at 72-57. Limonad sliced his way for a tough basket, but Rozic’s free throws and a Vukusic layin in transition got Cibona to 76-64 at the end of the third period, leaving plenty of hope for the visitors.
Hoskin used a pretty spin move to get within 10, while Le Mans was suddenly struggling on the offensive end. Warren took his team even closer with a steal and a slam, but Limonad answered from downtown. Rozic drained a three from the top of the key and Koffi was called for an offensive foul after knocking over Hoskin as the momentum headed to the visitors. Warren added another triple as the gap closed even further to 85-78. The nerves now seemed to affect both sides as the outside shots stopped falling. Kelley shaved another point off the lead, but at the other end Hoskin was called for an unsportsmanlike foul for trying to stop Ricci with 3:13 to go. A free throw and then a Ricci dunk on the resulting possession restored the hosts’ confidence and after a rushed Kelley miss, Nebojsa Bogavac made it 90-79 and practically sealed the win. Cibona tried to press, but Le Mans was successful in breaking the zone and a three-point play by Ricci with less than a minute remaining brought the crowd to its feet as Le Mans celebrated its first win of the Euroleague Basketball season.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008