Gravelines of France walked tall through the front door into the next round of the ULEB Cup by registering a huge 87-94 road win on Tuesday at Ural Great, becoming the first Group A visitor this season to survive in Perm. Gravelines took the game by the throat and led almost throughout, but needed to react late to a rally that left Ural leading by a point with 3 minutes left. As happened all game, outside-inside duo of Frankie King and Cedric Miller went to work, scoring 11 points in a 4-13 run to put the game away for Gravelines. King finished with 23 points, including 14-for-15 free throw shooting, while Miller added 21 points, Danny Strong 19 and Geoff Lear 17 for the winners. It was all they could do to overcome a 37-point blowout by Ural center Chris Anstey. Eddie Shannon added 10 and Raimons Vaikulis 11 for Ural, whose record fell to 4-5. Gravelines is now 7-2 and would have a chance to clinch first place by winning at home against last-place Jabones Pardo Fuenlabrada next week.
Gravelines took an early 4-8 lead thanks to Lear and stayed ahead for several minutes, taking advantage of Ural Great's bad shooting percentage (1 for 7, 14%) to start. Despite the missed shots, the hosts went to work on their intensity and squeezed out extra possessions until, with points by Shannon and forward Stefan Nadjfeji, taking a lead of 15-12. It didn't last long. Gravelines responded with a 3-10 run as Miller got hot from downtown distance. King did the rest, helping secure a 24-22 edge after one quarter. Then early in the second, the Gravelines point guard coming up with a four-point play - a three-pointer plus foul shot - that was a heavy blow to Ural's confidence. King's point total was up to 12 already and the Gravelines lead was at 28-36. Forward Nikolai Khryapa stepped in and scored 5 points that allowed Ural Great to stay in the game at 33-36. Then Anstey, who drew 5 fouls in the first half, started his engine for an important inside contribution that helped Ural stay in tough with the guests. Indeed, Gravelines still led at the half, but Ural had calmed the waters by drawing within 2 points at 42-44.
Shannon blasted out of the locker room after halftime to score 5 points in a row, giving Ural Great a minimum lead of 51-50 to start the third quarter. But now it was King's turn again. He relished his duel with Shannon and led Gravelines on a 2-10 run to a seven-point lead, 53-60, after 28 minutes. After an Ural timeout, Gravelines managed to keep the lead through the end of 30 minutes, 62-67. But Ural saved its best for the last quarter, and who else but Anstey, the center, stepped up to fire in 3 consecutive three-pointers to vault the hosts to a new lead, 75-74, with 3 minutes left to play. Miller answered with 4 straight points of his own to give back a 75-78 edge to Gravelines. And though Raimonds Vaikulis scored important jumpers to get Ural close at 79-80, Miller was back with a huge three-pointer to give the visitors breathing room at 79-83. Khryapa suffered a key turnover with little more than a minute to play, and appropriately enough, 4 points between King and Miller ended the suspense as the lead hit 79-87. Ural got as close again as 84-89, but Lear's three-point play in the final minute iced the result and assured a place for Gravelines in the next round of the ULEB Cup.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002