Le Mans Sarthe Basket bounced back from consecutive losses in Group A by beating RheinEnergie 73-79 in Dusseldorf, Germany on Thursday. Le Mans improved to 3-3 and ties for the third place in the Group A standings, while RheinEnergie dropped to 2-4. Kenny Gregory led the winners with 18 points. Eric Campbell posted a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, Sandro Nicevic also had 15 points and Nebojsa Bogavac 14 for Le Mans. Marcus Faison had 14 points for RheinEnergie, Immanuel McElroy added 13, Janar Talts had 12 while Ronnie Burrell and Marcin Gortat each tallied 11 for the hosts. Gregory and an outstanding Campbell provided a physical exhibition which allowed Le Mans to get a 36-42 edge at halftime. McElroy led the RheinEnergie comeback after the break, but Gregory and Nicevic helped the guests to keep the lead, 52-59, after three quarters. A three-pointer by Faison brought RheinEnergie within 60-61, but Nebojsa Bogavac and Tyson Wheeler fueled a 0-8 run which allowed Le Mans to get a safe lead and never look back.
Le Mans got off to the better start as RheinEnergie missed their first four shots of the game, scoring only on a free throw by Gortat. After Campbell grabbed an offensive rebound and scored inside, the visitors led 1-5. Gortat ended the draoght with an offensive board and lay-in of his own, then joined Burrell in adding another basket each as the hosts went ahead for the first time, 7-5. Le Mans answered with a pair of jump shots by Gregory, while the hosts looked to Burrell for their offense. He scored down low and found McElroy and Gortat with assists for easy points inside. After Yannick Bokolo hit a three-pointer for Le Mans, the hosts closed out the quarter with 7 unanswered points, as Gortat dunked and Janar Talts scored on a tip-in and a three-pointer to give RheinEnergie a 20-14 lead at intermission.
Le Mans went inside to center Nicevic to start the second quarter, and the big man answered the call with a three-point play and a nice turnaround jump shot sandwiched around a three-pointer by Gregory. Faison hit his first shot of the night for RheinEnergie, from downtown. When Nadjfeji followed with a fastbreak runner and Burrell a jumper, the hosts led by 27-21. But RheinEnergie had no answer for the power game of Campbell, who slammed twice and muscled the ball into the basket to tie the game at 27-27. After an exchange of baskets, Nicevic got Le Mans its first lead since the opening minutes with a pair of free throws. Bogavac’s second triple of the quarter, free throws by Wheeler and another dunk by Campbell gave the visitors 9 unanswered points. RheinEnergie had time, however, for Nadjfeji to twice find McElroy under the basket for open layups that cut the Le Mans lead to 36-42 at halftime.
Burrell opened the second half with a pair of free throws that Nicevic answered with a hook shot. That, however, would be the only basket for Le Mans over the first 4 minutes of the quarter. As RheinEnergie’s defense picked up, Mallet hit a three-pointer while Nadjfeji and McElroy scored inside to let the hosts seize a new lead at 46-44. Pape-Phillipe Amagou hit a triple to put Le Mans back in front. After baskets by Nadjfeji and McElroy, however, Marcin Gortat dunked home a miss to make it 52-47 for RheinEnergie. But the hosts could not capitalize on their momentum. Instead, Le Mans reeled off 8 straight points – 4 by Gregory – to recapture the lead. A midrange jump shot by Bogavac and free throws by Nicevic extended the Le Mans lead to 52-59 after 30 minutes.
Again in the fourth quarter, RheinEnergie came out strong, as free throws by Burrell and a transition jump shot by McElroy narrowed the margin to 55-59. The hosts' defense was also giving Le Mans problems. It took until the 6:30 mark for Campbell to score his team's first points of the quarter, but even then Mallet fed Burrell for a dunk and hit a three-pointer himself to make it 60-61, forcing a Le Mans timeout. The visitors responded, too. Bogavac hit a tough triple and Wheeler completed a three-point play to open the lead up again, all the way to 60-69 as Gregory hit a fadeaway over Gortat. Less than 3 minutes remained, but RheinEnergie challenged again, as Faison was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all the free throws. Another pair of free throws by Talts got the hosts to withing 65-70, but 3 more points by Campbell and a nifty layup by Wheeler put the game away for Le Mans, even with Faison scoring 8 quick points in a row as time ran out.
Thursday, November 30, 2006