It was close through 30 minutes, but in their do-or-die ULEB Cup showdown Tuesday, Caprabo Lleida needed only the last quarter to certify its passage to the second round by beating Cholet 99-84 at home in Group D. The game had arrived to the last period as close as expected, 67-70 for Cholet, but a 22-2 run for the hosts killed the game in a way that nobody expected. The win improved Lleida's record to 6-4, while Cholet dropped to 4-6 and was eliminated. The winners were led by A.J. Bramlett and Alberto Angulo with 17 points each. Roger Grimau added 15 and Jaume Comas 12. For Cholet, K'Zell Wesson posted 24 points, Tony Stanley added 15 while Ivan Krasic and Richard Barry contributed 14 each.
The first steps of the game were for Cholet, who through a three-pointer by Tony Stanley, jumped ahead 6-9. The good combination between A.J. Brameltt and Roger Grimau though, put the hosts back ahead at 12-9 after a 6-0 run. The guests ran quick into the foul bonus, and at the same time, K'Zell Wesson becamse the main alternative for Cholet, as he scored 8 of the first 18 points of his team with a 4 of 4 from the field. When Grimau sat on the bench, Alberto Angulo took his place without any pressure and scored also from every position to put his team 23-18 in minute 7, but ran into early foul trouble with his third in minute 9. Both teams had good shooting percentages, but Lleida's was slightly superior with a 71% against a 67% of Cholet. Another layup by Wesson made it 28-23 to put an end to the first quarter. In the second quarter, Lleidamanaged to maintain a lead around the 10 points thanks to the superiority of Bramlett in the paint, and Grimau added a 3-point play for 42-34. But then Ivan Krasic appeared. The forward hit two straight threes that would pull Cholet within 43-40, and then Richard Barry added 5 consecutive points to turn the thing upseide down in minute 18, 45-47. Despite having a better balance of steals and turnovers, the hosts could do nothing but see how Cholet reacted in their face, even though Berni Alvarez tried to hold the guests back from downtown. But it was hopeless, as Barry and Krasic alone lloked like they had decided to kill Lleida, and another three by the latter forged a 6-point lead for Cholet, 48-54 at halftime.
After resumption, Cholet tried to consolidate its lead by rallying to 54-62 thanks to Barry and Wesson, but 4 straight points by Angulo and Grimau, and later a three by Manel Bosch put the hosts ahead again by 1 point, 65-64 in minute 29. Cholet had committed 16 turnovers to that point, but it was clear that Lleida didn't know how to take advantage of that, and Barry hit again for 3 to put his team ahead in time for the decisive quarter, 67-70. And then arrived the tornado. In the last quarter the hosts rallied for a 22-2 run that looked almost impossible from what had been seen during the first three quarters. Cholet's defense was almost non-existent while Johnny Rogers, Bosch and Co. improved the score to 89-72 and broke the game open. Just when it was too late, Stanley and Krasic tried to strike back from downtown, but it was a desperate attempt at an impossible quest, as the hosts cruied to the final 99-84, while the fans celebrated their advancing to the next round.
Friday, January 17, 2003