Sluc Nancy became the first French team since 2003 to advance to the ULEB Cup elimination rounds by edging visiting Gran Canaria Grupo Dunas 76-71 in Group A on Tuesday. Nancy, which made it to the next round in its first-ever ULEB Cup appearance, improved to 5-3 and ties with Hemofarm for the second place in the Group A standings, one win behind Lietuvos Rytas, first at 6-2. These three teams have already made it to the next round, while Strasbourg, fourth at 4-4, is all but mathematically qualified. Dan McClintock led the winners with 24 points on 10 of 12 two-pointers and 9 rebounds. Tariq Kirksay added 17 points, Branko Milisavljevic had 13 while Cedrick Banks scored 11 points and dished 8 assists for Nancy. Jackson Vroman led Gran Canaria with a monster double-double of 28 points and 14 rebounds. Jimmie Hunter added 10 points for Gran Canaria, which rallied for a 14-point deficit to get a 44-47 lead midway through the third quarter. Banks fueled a 8-0 run to put Nancy back ahead and the hosts kept full control throughout the fourth quarter to add a historical win.
Nancy had a strong start, as a layup by Milisavljevic ignited a 6-0 opening run which Kirksay capped with a dunk. Gran Canaria went scoreless in the opening 2 minutes until Vroman scored around the basket but McClintock matched it and added free throws for a 10-2 Nancy lead. Joel Freeland shined with a layup but Milisavljevic answered from downtown to make it a nine-point game, 13-4. Kornel David stepped up with a put-back layup which McClintock erased with a dunk, while Banks hit free throws to give nancy its first double-digit lead, 17-6. Marcus Norris buried a three-pointer, but Banks and Cyril Julian combined for all points in a 6-0 run for a 23-9 Nancy margin. Jim Moran nailed one from downtown to get the guests within 23-12 after 10 minutes. Julian scored again but Gran Canaria was ready to fight. A three-pointer by Victor Baldo ignited a 1-9 run in which Vroman scored twice around the basket to bring the guests back to life, 26-21. McClintock scored again and Kirksay added a triple, but Roberto Guerra and Vroman kept Gran Canaria close at 31-25. McClintock dunked it again and soon added a layup for a 35-26 margin after 18 minutes. Kirksay scored inside and Milisavljevic added a jumper, but David and Vroman helped Gran Canaria to get within 39-32 at halftime.
Vroman stayed on fire after the break and scored twice to get Gran Canaria back into the game, 39-36, early in the third quarter. Milisavljevic stepped up with a layup which Vroman - who else? - erased in the other end and added free throws for a 41-40 score. Victor Samnick shined with a put-back layup but Moran and Hunter gave Gran Canaria its first lead of the game, 44-45, midway through the third quarter. Hunter scored again, but Banks had 5 points in a 8-0 run which Julian capped with free throws, good for a 52-47 Nancy lead. Freeland dunked it, but McClintock and Kirksay scored inside to keep Nancy ahead, 56-49. A put-basket by Vroman and a free throw by McClintock fixed the score at 57-51 after three quarters. McClintock and Vroman exchanged baskets right at the start of the final period. Vroman fed Norris for a close basket but Nancy kept running its offense through McClintock, who scored twice to keep his team ahead at 63-55. Freeland buried a jumper which Kirksay matched with a close basket. Banks scored in penetration to make Gran Canaria call timeout, 67-57, with 5 minutes to go. Time was running out for the guests, who kept struggling to score. Meanwhile, Banks fed Kirksay for a triple but Guerra and Hunter answered from downtown to give the guests some hope, 74-69, already in the final minute. Milisavljevic sealed the win from the free throw line, allowing all Nancy fans to celebrate that their fans will fight for the ULEB Cup title!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006