ASVEL stays strong to overcome Valencia
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne flexed its muscles to claim a determined 90-77 home win over Valencia Basket on Thursday night. ASVEL, which was coming off a tough loss to Olympiacos two days earlier, had the better of the first half, leading by as many as 8 points on a couple of occasions. Valencia came out strong in the second half to move ahead, but the home side rallied to lead 61-54 with 10 minutes remaining. The margin was extended steadily in the fourth quarter, reaching as many as 19 points, and that was enough to seal the deal. William Howard led the way with a career-high 17 points, while Guerschon Yabusele added 12 and Derrick Walton Jr and David Lighty both scored 10. Valencia’s Nikola Kalinic top scored with 18 points, Derrick Williams contributed 11 points in defeat, and Mike Tobey posted 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Kalinic scored the first two baskets with powerful drives inside, before Yabusele got ASVEL on the board with a three-point play. Kalinic and Tobey kept Valencia moving, but Yabusele hit the game’s first three-pointer to tie it, 8-8. Ismael Bako dunked and Norris Cole struck a corner three to send ASVEL ahead for the first time, but Martin Hermannsson and Louis Labeyrie came off the bench to give Valencia another lead, before a layup-and-one from Howard made it 17-17 at the end of the first. Moustapha Fall’s tip-in opened the second-quarter scoring and Charles Kahudi added a smooth jumper, but Valencia came back through free throws and Joan Sastre's drive to the basket. Antoine Diot’s triple made it 24-23. Labeyrie and Walton traded three-pointers before Lighty’s drive inside made it 31-26. Yabusele scored 5 points in a hurry and Lighty’s backdoor cut sent ASVEL further ahead before Williams and Walton both scored at the basket to make it 40-34 at the break.
Sam Van Rossom struck a pair of three-pointers early in the third and Williams added another triple for a 42-43 lead. Kalinic added free throws to cap a 2-11 run, but Kevarrius Hayes and Lighty gave ASVEL fresh impetus and Cole tied it up, 49-49, after a technical foul on Kalinic. Hermannsson immediately made a three-point play, but Howard’s corner triple sent ASVEL ahead and Hayes stayed hot to make it 56-52. Kahudi had the final word of the third quarter, sinking a three-pointer for a 61-54 lead. Howard added another triple for a double-digit lead at the start of the fourth. Matthew Strazel was also on target from beyond the arc and the lead kept growing through free throws before Walton completed a 9-1 run, which stretched the advantage to 79-60 midway through the fourth. Guillem Vives scored 5 points to pull Valencia closer and youngster Jaime Pradilla also shined in the final stages, but there was no doubt about the outcome.
Ball handling problems for Valencia
ASVEL’s intense defense meant that Valencia had trouble looking after the ball, committing a season-high 20 turnovers. The hosts, meanwhile, only had 11 turnovers along with 17 assists. That made a big impact on the outcome, allowing ASVEL to take 9 more field goal attempts than the visitors (57 to 48).
Diot makes a difference
Playing against his former club, ASVEL point guard Antoine Diot delivered a solid all-round performance. He did a bit of everything to contribute 9 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in a team-high 26:24 on the floor.
Free throws aplenty
This was a physically intense game with lots of fouls and lots of free throws, and both teams made good use of their trips to the line. ASVEL converted 21-of-25 free throws (84%), while Valencia made 24-of-28 (85.7%).
Both teams will be at home to start the two-round week on Wednesday night for Round 21. ASVEL welcomes TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz while Valencia receives a visit from Zalgiris Kaunas.
Thursday, January 21, 2021