Adecco Asvel was the protagonist of arguably the biggest upset of the Week 5 when it stopped previously unbeaten Pamesa Valencia at home on Thursday by 86-66. The win improves Asvel's record in Group C to 2-3, while Pamesa suffers its first defeat and drops to 4-1. Despite a quick Pamesa start, Asvel led during most of the 40 minutes. Pamesa, who played without Dejan Tomasevic due to an internal decision of the club, eclipsed the lead on several occasions, but always met with a strong Asvel reaction. Three-point shooting made a difference: Asvel landed 11 of 24 from behind the arc while Pamesa made only 6 of 22. Makan Dioumassi led the winners with 15 points, while Shawnta Rogers drove the winners and scored 14. Harold Mrazek added 11, Robert Gulyas and David Frigout 10 apiece. For the guests, Fabricio Oberto was the best man with 15 points, Antoine Rigaudeau added 14, and Demos Dikoudis and Marko Popovic posted 10 each.
Pamesa jumped ahead 0-4 in just a couple of plays to start the game. A zone defense of Asvel proved uneffective and the hosts alternated with individual defense to try to stop the Spaniards for a while. It worked for some time, the problem was thet Asvel didn't score on the other end, except for a turnaround jumper by Gulyas, making his first appearance of the season. But Federico Kammerichs put back his own offensive rebound, then Oberto scored twice more underneath as Pamesa led 2-10 after 5 minutes. Asvel coach Philippe Herve called a timeout to reorganize his team, and it worked. Makan Dioumassi scored 5 points in a row, while Karim Souchu added his own basket for a quick 9-10. Pamesa had a bad shot selection and only Alejandro Montecchia appeared to hit a triple for 9-13. But the run of the French team continued until 15-3, as Souchu's triple put Asvel ahead for the first time, 15-13, and David Frigout's layup made it 17-13. It was Pamesa's turn for a timeout, after which there was only time for another basket by Oberto, though Asvel still led 17-15 after 10 minutes.
Asvel continued rolling in the first minutes of the second quarter. Two straight triples by the hosts for an excellent 5 of 8 from the arc, put a 23-15. Pamesa missed too many shots despite having good options and four more points for the hosts, including Herve Toure's layup, earned Asvel the first double-digit lead of the night, 25-15 and later 27-15. Oberto missed two more free throws for a 0 of 5 for the Spaniards from the line. It was Marko Popovic who scored first for Pamesa in minute 15. Robert Gulyas scored again for a 12-point lead, 29-17. It was time for Pamesa to react, but it wasn't easy as the French team continued with a great percentage from downtown. However, Pamesa's defense improved and forced some Asvel possessions to expire. A triple by Popovic and two free throws by Asier Garcia made it 35-30 in minute 18. Derek Hood added his bank shot, but a late three-pointer by Popovic with 2 seconds to go pulled the guests within 37-35 at the break.
After resumption Alessandro Abbio reappeared soon for an early triple to put Pamesa ahead again, 37-38, but 4 straight points by Rogers earned the lead again for Asvel. He was undoubtedly the man of the quarter for the hosts, as his fast drives confused Pamesa's defense. A flagrant foul called on Asier Garcia over Gulyas wasn't used by the French team to pull away again, but Gulyas himself added a jumper to seal a 7-0 run, 44-38. Oberto, with a nice move in the paint, put the Spaniards in the game again at 49-44 in minute 25. Rigaudeau scored a triple from the side for a fast 53-50, but Harold Mrazek saved a confusing offensive play by Asvel in the same manner. Rigaudeau took the challenge and scored again from downtown, still Asvel maintained a 58-55 edge after 30 minutes.
The decisive period started well for Pamesa, who managed to jump ahead again, 58-59. But whenever the guests jumped ahead, Asvel was ready with a run, on this occasion 9-0. Four points by Frigout and a three-point play by Hood made it 67-59. After Oberto missed 2 free throws, a three-point play by Dioumassi for 75-61 in minute 37 made things a bit clearer for Asvel. Pamesa insisted on three-pointers, which didn't fall, while Asvel only had to wait for the miss and run the fastbreak. Mrazek's triple sealed a 20-2 run for the hosts while the fans freaked out in the stands, looking at a 78-61 advantage. Pamesa didn't surrender in the last minutes, but it knew that its first Euroleague loss was at hand.
Thursday, December 4, 2003
Yvan Tabellion, Villeurbanne