Nanterre pummels Promitheas to flirt with Top 16
Nanterre 92 took a strong step toward a Top 16 qualification when it blasted visiting Promitheas Patras 91-70 in their Group D game on Tuesday. Its third consecutive victory lifted Nanterre to a 4-4 record while Promitheas fell to 2-5. What's more, the 21-point margin gave Nanterre the tiebreak between them, after having lost earlier by 16 in Patras, in case the two teams end up tied. Johnny Berhanemeskel dominated the first half and ended with a season-high 21 points for the winners, including 4 of 6 three-point shooting. Brian Conklin shot 7-for 10 inside the arc to score 19 of his 20 points after halftime. Tyler Stone added 14 points and Isaia Cordinier 10 for Nanterre. Ian Miller led Promitheas with 16 points while Dimitris Agravanis added 11.
Alpha Kaba's 4 points put Nanterre up 6-0 before Miller nailed the game's first triple for Promitheas. Stone answered him at 9-5, but Miller and Agravanis made layups to tie. Antreas Christodoulou gave Promitheas its first lead, 9-11. A series of ties was broken by Agravanis in close before Diante Garrett's corner three had Promitheas ahead 19-21 after 10 minutes. The visitors stretched the difference to 25-30, but Cordinier fed Kaba for a dunk and Berhanemeskel for a transition triple at 30-30. Cordinier took the lead back from deep and Berhanemeskel added a four-point play for a sudden 37-32 Nanterre lead. Mouhammad Faye dunked and Garrett dropped a layup for the guests but Berhanemeskel and Cordinier were joined by Stone, with his second triple, to establish the first double-digit lead, 47-36. Damien Bouquet kept it that way, 49-38, at the half. Cordinier's huge block and triple helped push the lead to 54-41 after the break. The scoring stalled but Conklin kept the hosts up before Berhanemeskel struck again from deep at 60-48. Stone followed with another triple and Berhanemeskel couldn't miss as Nanterre pulled in to the end of the third quarter leading 69-54. Conklin took over early in the fourth, extending the difference to 77-57, enough to overturn the 16-point win of Promitheas in their first game. Bouquet added layups to make it 81-61 with less than 5 minutes left. It stayed that way, 85-65, into the last 2 minutes, and when Promitheas scored 5 points, Conklin responded with 4 of his own, assuring the head-to-head advantage as well as the victory.
Pivotal performer I
Johnny Berhanemeskel, a double-digit scorer most of his career, had been averaging just 4.8 points through his first six EuroCup games, but found his touch early against Promitheas, scoring 14 first-half points, including 3 of 5 triples, to put his team in the driver's seat, 49-38, at halftime. He finished with a season-high 21 and was the key for Nanterre in what were really two games in one.
Pivotal performer II
Once the victory looked clear for Nanterre, it became a matter of the 16-point difference from the first game, and that's where Conklin came to the fore. His 19 second-half points. And when Promitheas threatened to drop the difference to 16 or lower in the final 2 minutes, he answered with his last 4 to assure the tiebreak advantage.
Promitheas had rallied from behind 6-0 to lead 25-30 early in the second quarter. Isaia Cordinier and Berhanemeskel led a 14-2 Nanterre run to a 39-32 lead. When Promitheas ate into it a little, the same duo sparked a 8-0 spurt, making for a 22-6 span that gave the hosts a double-digit lead and control for good of the scoreboard.
Return of a talisman
Pascal Donnadieu was on the Nanterre 92 bench for a EuroCup game for the first time since October 16. He had missed three weeks when he contracted COVID-19, during which time Nanterre won twice, then there was a two-week break in the EuroCup schedule. Donnadieu, 56, is no doubt one of the longest-serving club coaches anywhere, having led Nanterre for 33 years since 1987, when his own playing career ended due to injuries.
Promitheas stays on the road to make up a Round 5 game with Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana on Thursday, December 10, in what turns into a do-or-die meeting for the visitors. Nanterre's next game is next Monday, December 14, at home against Frutti Extra Bursaspor, in a game rescheduled from Round 5, as well.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020