Valencia gains first win against ASVEL
Valencia Basket claimed its first victory of the season with a hard-fought 80-72 home triumph over LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, which drops to 3-3 for the season and is still waiting for its first road win. ASVEL was very much in contention throughout, holding a slender lead at half-time and keeping its options alive until the very last minute, but ultimately Valencia was able to capitalize upon a second-half burst inspired by Quino Colom to claim a much-needed victory. Bojan Dubljevic led a balanced Valencia offense by scoring 13 points, while Guillem Vives was the only other home team player in double figures with 10 points. Colom combined 9 points with 6 assists, most of which came during Valencia's strong second-half spurt. The game's highest-scorer was ASVEL's Livio Jean-Charles, who made 9 of 11 two-point attempts to register 20 points. Former Valencia player Antoine Diot also shone with 17 points and 6 assists, and Edwin Jackson added 10 points.
The opening stages were very closely contested, with Diot getting ASVEL's offense moving by sinking an early three-pointer on his former home court. Aaron Doornekamp and Jordan Loyd answered from long-range for Valencia, but Diot's second triple sent ASVEL ahead, 8-10. The visitors then had success inside, with Amine Noua scoring the last basket of the first quarter on the buzzer for a 16-18 edge. A three-point play from Maurice N’Dour and a three-point strike from Dubljevic sent Valencia back in front, but Jean-Charles then took over with four close-range baskets, giving ASVEL a 35-36 half-time edge. Rihards Lomazs and Loyd both struck triples early in the second half, and a period of even scoring featured Dubljevic's first two-pointer and a long-range strike from ASVEL's Jackson. Colom found Dubljevic for a 56-52 lead at the end of the third, and early in the fourth the same duo combined to brilliant effect as two magical assists from Colom were finished by the center. Colom also dished to Louis Labeyrie for a huge slam, and Valencia appeared to be pulling away at 70-60. The unstoppable Jean-Charles kept ASVEL hoping, and a three-pointer by Lomazs made it 75-70 in the final minute. A spectacular alley-oop between Diot and Jean-Charles was ASVEL's last roll of the dice, as Valencia used a series of free throws to seal the deal.
Colom creativity sparks Valencia
The game was ultimately decided by a big Valencia surge at the start of the fourth quarter, and Quino Colom was the architect. The veteran guard scored a three-pointer and dished 3 assists in the space of three minutes, including a stunning no-look behind the back pass to Dubljevic and an inch-perfect bounce pass to the same player. Colom’s last assist in that brilliant burst, to Louis Labeyrie, gave Valencia a 10-point lead and left ASVEL with too much to do.
Dubljevic enjoys big turnaround
Unusually, Bojan Dubljevic was desperately struggling for Valencia in the first half, missing his first five two-point attempts as Valencia reached half-time making only 8-of-19 two-point attempts (42%). But the big man was transformed after the break, making all five of his second-half two-pointers. Valencia’s two-point shooting in general consequently enjoyed a similar improvement, finishing with 18-of-32 (56.3%).
Jean-Charles unstoppable inside
Dubljevic, however, was outshone by visiting big man Livio Jean-Charles. The 25-year old product of ASVEL’s youth system missed two of his first three two-point attempts but was then faultless, converting eight consecutive attempts to finish with a game-high 20 points.
Warm reception for Diot
There was an emotional moment pre-game for visiting point guard Antoine Diot, who spent the last four seasons with Valencia before joining ASVEL in the summer. The last two years of his time in Spain were ruined by injury, but he was still fondly regarded by the Valencia fans and was given a rousing ovation during the pre-game presentations. And he responded by scoring a career-high 17 points, including three three-pointers.
Valencia will now look for its first road win of the season with a tough trip to face Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in Round 7, while ASVEL will attempt to maintain its perfect home record with a visit from reigning champions CSKA Moscow.
Friday, November 1, 2019