ASVEL back to EuroLeague with a bang
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne made a triumphant return to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with a resounding 82-63 win over the visiting Olympiacos Piraeus on Friday. ASVEL took the lead for good in the second quarter, opened the double-digit advantage in the third, and never allowed the Reds to come closer than 7 points the rest of the way. David Lighty and Jordan Taylor paced the winners with 16 points apiece. Tonye Jekiri collected 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Livio Jean-Charles had 10 points for ASVEL. Georgios Printezis scored 15 for the visitors, Kevin Punter netted 11 while Nikola Milutinov finished with 10 points plus 10 rebounds.
Olympiacos took it inside early with 8 points from Printezis before some help from Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Punter opened a 10-17 lead. But ASVEL had an answer with 4 consecutive basket-plus-foul opportunities, three of which Jekiri, Charles Kahudi and Taylor turned into three-point plays for a 21-21 tie. Vassilis Spanoulis ended the first quarter with a buzzer-beater, but that was the only triple for the Reds in the first half. On the other end, Taylor and Adreian Payne hit from long range to jump ASVEL ahead by 31-25. Payne scored twice more inside, before Lighty made a tip-in as time expired to make it 40-33 at halftime. Baskets were few and far between early in the third quarter, but 5 points from Antoine Diot opened a 47-35 lead for ASVEL. Olympiacos briefly tried a full-court press and Printezis nailed a three-pointer, but Lighty answered right back with a three of his own to make it 54-42. Spanoulis gave Olympiacos some spark by assisting Milutinov's alley-oop dunk late in the third, then hitting a triple early in the fourth. But Lighty and Taylor struck from downtown for ASVEL to keep the margin in double digits, 62-52. Taylor scored 5 more points, starting a final run that pushed the margin to 19 as the fans at Astroballe celebrated a memorable victory.
Long time coming
This was ASVEL's first EuroLeague game since January 14, 2010, when it played, but lost, against Cibona Zagreb. ASVEL finally tasted a EuroLeague victory after nearly nine years and 10 months, since it beat Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul on December 9, 2009.
Not even 15 offensive rebounds could help Olympiacos, which was held to 46.2% on two-pointers and just 4-for-17 (23.5%) from long range.
ASVEL values experience
ASVEL had only four players who previously appeared in a EuroLeague game, and those four players – Edwin Jackson, Antoine Diot, David Lighty and Adreian Payne – each played at least 18 minutes, combining for 36 points and 9 assists.
Spanoulis reaches 4,000 points
It was not the way he would have liked it to happen, but by scoring 9 points tonight Vassilis Spanoulis reached exactly 4,000 points for his EuroLeague career. He is only the second man to do it, behind all-time scoring leader Juan Carlos Navarro, who has 4,152 for his career.
ASVEL will be at home in Round 2, too, welcoming the other Greek rival Panathinaikos OPAP Athens next Thursday. A day later Olympiacos will play a home opener against Valencia Basket.
Friday, October 4, 2019