Elan Chalon downs Prokom in Euroleague debut
Elan Chalon-Sur-Saone made its Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut a memorable one with an 81-74 victory over Polish champion Asseco Prokom Gdynia on Thursday evening. New signing Brion Rush led an 8-0 third-quarter run that put Chalon in control and the lead reached 14 early in the fourth quarter on a Shelden Williams basket. However Prokom battled on to make it close in the last few minutes. But the French champs did not wilt under the late pressure and Blake Schilb led the hosts to victory. In a game that was defined by great three-point shooting, it was Prokom poor free-throws shooting (10 of 23, 43.4%) and its 25 turnovers that proved to be the deciding numbers. Ilian Evitmov and Rush scored 17 apiece to lead Chalon, while Steed Tchicamboud tallied 16 points and 9 assists. Schilb finished with 13. Both Rush and Schilb added 4 steals each. Lukasz Koszarek led the visitors with 14 points and 7 rebounds, teenage sensation Mateusz Ponitka scored 13 in 18 minutes, Frank Robinson netted 12, Julian Khazzouh 11 and Jerel Blassingame dished 11 assists in defeat.
First quarter: Getting adjusted
Prokom started nicely as Piotr Szczotka drove and set up Adam Hrycaniuk for an easy layup, but Chalon bounced right back as Evitmov drained a three-pointer on his first touch and Williams followed his own miss to make it 5-2. Early jitters hit for both sides and shots stopped falling, but Koszarek drained a big three to push Prokom ahead, 5-7, midway through the opening quarter. The outside shot remained the weapon of choice for both sides as Evitmov and Tchicamboud each connected to put the host back in control, but Robinson’s three closed the quarter with the visitors holding an 11-12 edge.
Second quarter: Tchicamboud takes over
Hrycaniuk free throws stretched the lead to 4 for Prokom before Rush and Ponitka traded baskets. Koszarek extended the Polish champs’ advantage to 6, but Rush was fouled shooting from behind the arc and made all 3 free throws. Then threes from Schilb and Tchicamboud vaulted the hosts back ahead, 22-21. Prokom responded with a three from Koszarek as the deep shot continued to define the game. Joffrey Lauvergne registered his first Euroleague points with a triple. Then Khazzouh evened things at 25-25. The elad switched hands on each of the next three possessions, but Chalon came out stronger after Tchicamboud made free throws, then assisted Nicolas Lang for his first points and Rush came through with a steal and layup to make it 33-28 at the break.
Third quarter: Chalon takes off
Baskets by Robiinson and Ponitka carried Prokom right back in the first minute of the third quarter. Rush fired in a Chalon three to restore a 38-32 edge. However a pair of threes from Khazzouh – sandwiching a triple from Evitmov – closed the gap to 41-40 midway through the quarter. Evitmov answered with a basket-plus-foul and Rush hit from behind the arc and got to the line for 2 more in an 8-0 Chalon spurt. Pamula tried to ignite Prokom with a three and Blassingame later connected on 5 quick points to close the deficit to 52-48. But Evitmov hit once more from downtown and Tchicamboud made it 57-48 through three quarter.
Fourth quarter: Schilb shows leadership
Tchicamboud gave Chalon its first double-digit lead with a three to open the fourth quarter and Williams made it 62-48. But Prokom battled on. A Pamula three and a Hrycaniuk three-point play closed the gap to 8. Lauvergne made it a 10-point game again, but Ponitka answered. Then Koszarek swished a three from the corner to narrow the gap to 5 with five minutes to play. Rush penetrated, but after JBAM was denied underneath and his attempted block was ruled goaltending at the other end, Ponitka drained a three to make it 68-64. Schilb responded with a jumper and then a basket inside for the hosts, extending the lead back up to 8 with two minutes to go. A Robinson turnover on the way to the basket seemed to spell disaster for the visitors, but after Rush lost the ball, Robinson redeemed himself with a triple. But Blassingame missed from the top of the key with a minute left and Schilb free throws with 55.2 seconds left practically iced the game at 76-67. Blassingame penetrated for a basket-plus-foul, but missed the free throw as Prokom’s last hopes started to slip away.
Thursday, October 11, 2012