A magical Arvydas Macijauskas helped Tau Ceramica keep pace in the ever-tighter Group C race with an easy 92-76 home victory against Adecco Asvel on Wednesday in the last game of the first leg. Macijauskas put on an incredible shooting diplay, hitting 6 of 6 three-pointers, 4 of 7 twos and 14 of 14 foul shots for 40 points total in just 29 minutes on the floor. Luis Scola was the only other Tau player to score in double figures, getting 15 points coming off the bench. Robert Gulyas collected 20 for Asvel, while Andre Owens chipped in 11. The victory raised Tau's record to 4-3 and allowed it to tie Idea Slask for fourth place in the group. Efes Pilsen, Pamesa Valencia and Benetton Treviso share first place at 5-2 each. Asvel fell to a sure sixth-place tie at 2-5.
The visitors made clear in the early beginning that they are a different and tougher team with Gulyas and Owens in the lineup. Asvel prevented the hosts from scoring in the 2 first minutes of the game, and only a flagrant foul called on Derek Hood gave Calderon the chance to score Tau's the first point from the free throw line. A three-pointer by Makan Dioumassi gave Asvel a lead of 3-9 as Tau cntinued to struggle on offense due to bad shot selection. Tau coach Dusko Ivanovic switched between Luis Scola and Andrew Betts twice in the 4 first minutes, looking for a way to stop Gulyas, who already had 7 points. Tau's called for its first timeout at 14-15 in minute 7 of the first period. Sergi Vidal and Macijauskas, the only one able to score for the hosts, put Tau ahead 19-17 just after the timeout, and the gap remained until the end of the first quarter, which finished 23-21.
Five points in a row by Macijauskas and a fastbreak basket by Pablo Prigioni boosted Tau to a 31-27 lead early in the second quarter. Asvel kept using an aggresive 2-3 zone even though Macijauskas was burning at the three-point line. The Lithuanian sharpshooter nailed his fifth triple in as many attempts and forced an Asvel timeout at 38-30. Asvel switched to a man-to-man defense, but there was nothing to do against Macijauskas. One jumper and 2 more free throws raised the margin up to 12 points midway through the second period. The margin kept going up with Vidal, Macijauskas and Prigioni as its main contributors. Thanks to Gulyas, who took advantage of Scola's absence with foul trouble to score 6 points in a row, Asvel managed to reach the half time trailing by only a dozen, 51-39.
Harold Mrazek opened fire early in the third period with a three-pointer, but Calderon answered from the same place and Andres Nocioni scored his first point of the night to set a 13-point gap. Even with Macijauskas on the bench, Tau kept getting easy fastbreak points, preventing Asvel from any comeback chances. The guests took a timeout when Tau's lead reached 18 points after 26 minutes, but soon a sixth three-pointer by Macijauskas put Tau ahead by more than 20 points for the first time. Asvel persisted in throwing away chances with outside and off-balance shots until a free throw by Scola closed the quarter with Tau winning by 28 points, 75-47.
With Tau using a couple deep bench players early in the fourth quarter, Asvel was able to take a breath and reduce the gap to 15 points with 5 minutes left. Watching this, Tau head coach Dusko Ivanovic asked for a timeout and made some changes. Macijauskas came back on court and increased his scoring smoothly, drawing fouls every time he got the ball. The Lithuanian reached 40 points on a magic night. Asvel had to settle for Herve Toure making a buzzer-beating three-pointer to finish the game at 92-76.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003