Birthday boy Fontecchio leads Baskonia past ASVEL
Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz snapped a three-game losing streak by comfortably overcoming LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, 91-66, in a game of two halves on Thursday night. The first half was very closely contested with several lead changes and neither team able to get ahead by more than 5 points, as the interval came with Baskonia up 45-44. But the home side raced into a double-digit lead in the third quarter, and ASVEL never looked like recovering as its offense suffered a misfiring second half. Simone Fontecchio led the way for Baskonia by scoring 15 points on his 26th birthday. Rokas Giedraitis also scored 15, while Steven Enoch added 14, Matt Costello and Wade Baldwin IV both scored 13. Chris Jones paced ASVEL with 17 points and Victor Wembanyama added 10 points. Baskonia improves to 5-9 while ASVEL now has an equal number of wins and losses at 7-7.
Giedraitis opened the scoring from deep and Enoch soon added two big dunks, but three scores from Jones - including a three-point play - gave ASVEL its first lead, 7-9. Marcos Knight was also on target as the game entered a phase of slow scoring, before Baldwin livened up proceedings with a slam in transition, 11-11. James Gist scored 5 fast points to send ASVEL back in front, Costello was also on target twice and Jones split free throws to make it 19-19 after ten minutes. Jones netted again to start the second quarter, before Baldwin and Charles Kahudi traded triples. Kahudi scored in transition for a 22-26 lead, but Costello’s threeball and two scores from Fontecchio forced another lead change. Wembanyama scored 5 points in a hurry to tie it, 33-33, and scoring was evenly shared before a good finish from Fontecchio and a slam from Giedtraitis made it 43-38. Gist hit back with a triple and Jones added a layup and one, but Baldwin scored in penetration for a 45-44 lead at half-time.
Enoch netted the first 4 points of the second half, before Wembanyama and Fontecchio were on target from beyond the arc. Elie Okobo and Fontecchio also traded triples before Enoch stretched the lead to 57-50. Enoch dunked again and Costello added another slam for a double-digit lead, 63-52. Fontecchio added a triple before Kahudi ended a 9-0 run from the foul line. Jayson Granger had the final word of the third quarter with a triple for a 69-55 lead. Baldwin’s jumper added to the lead at the start of the fourth, before William Howard tried to get ASVEL moving with a triple. But Granger also struck from deep before a few minutes of slow scoring were ended by an open dunk for Landry Nnoko and a three for Giedraitis, making it 80-60. Giedraitis added another triple to ensure the outcome was sealed long before the end, and ASVEL had just the consolation of a ferocious late dunk from Wembanyama.
Triple celebration for Fontecchio
Simone Fontecchio enjoyed a triple celebration as Baskonia downed ASVEL. Along with the win on the day of his 26th birthday, the Italian forward had a milestone evening as he surpassed 500 points in his Turkish Airlines EuroLeague career. Fontecchio didn’t miss a shot until near the end of the third quarter and ended up with 15 points on 6 of 8 field goal shooting. He has reached the 500-point mark in 62 EuroLeague games, covering five seasons with three different clubs – after starting out with AX Armani Exchange Milan he represented ALBA Berlin last season, and then joined Baskonia in the summer.
Baskonia finds smooth offense
Baskonia came into the game with a league-worst conversion rate of 49.3% from two-point range, but improved on that statistic on this occasion. The home side made 12 of its 15 attempts from inside the arc in the first half, before finishing with 24-of-42 two-pointers made (57.1%). The home side also shot well from deep, making 11-of-22 three-pointers for a season-high 50%. Those stats were possible thanks to a smoothly operating offense, with 24 assists and just 5 turnovers. Jayson Granger was the chief orchestrator with 8 assists and Wade Baldwin IV provided 6.
Jones not enough for ASVEL
Chris Jones was a one-man offense in the opening stages for ASVEL, scoring five of his team’s first 11 baskets and providing assists for three more. But when Jones ran out of steam nobody else was there to pick up the slack, especially in the third quarter when the French team went more than seven minutes without scoring a field goal as Baskonia raced into a double-digit lead which ultimately settled the game. ASVEL finished with poor shooting percentages, making 16-of-43 two-pointers (37.2%) and 7-of-20 from three-point range (35%).
Thursday, December 9, 2021