Alba battled its way out of the Group C basement with a hard-fought 80-73 victory over visiting Adecco Asvel on Wednesday in Berlin. With 4 points each from DeJuan Collins and Vladimir Petrovic, Alba outscored Asvel 10-5 in the final 2 minutes to ice the victory and raise its record to 2-6, tying it with Asvel. Petrovic led five Alba scorers in double figures with 18 points and added 8 rebounds. Collins had 17 points, Jobo Stanojevic 15 points and 10 rebounds, John Best 14 points and newcomer Charles Evans 11 points and 5 assists. Asvel was led by Robert Gulyas with 16 points. Karim Souchu added 14, Andre Owens 13 and 5 assists, and Sasha Giffa 11 points, 9 of them in the first quarter. Asvel played without starting point guard and team leader Shawnta Rogers, who is injured.
Alba in the first minutes tried to score from outside, while Asvel went inside, which turned out to be the better idea: With a dunk by Gulyas, the visitors were up 0-4, before Stasnojevic scored Alba's first points. Asvel's good defense forced Alba to go taking difficult shots. Many of them missed and were answered by Asvel fastbreaks. Giffa's three-pointer for 7-15 caused Alba's first timeout and the insertion of newcomer Chuck Evans. Gulyas and Owens added 4 more points for an 8-19 Asvel advantage, but then Evans and DeJuan Collins came up with 2 straight three-pointers. They then added 4 more points between them to open the game again with Alba now within 18-21. Owens and Stanojevic scored the last points of the first quarter as Asvel clung to a 19-23 advantage.
Szymon Szewczyk set the tone of the second quarter by smashing a huge dunk that finally woke up everybody in the Max Schmeling Hall. Petrovic soon tied it up, 23-23, and though Harold Mrazek answered instantly for 23-25, Alba was awake now. Petrovic, with his second three-pointer, and John Best brought Alba ahead 28-25. After a timeout, Asvel switched to a zone defense against which Alba struggled a lot. Only great efforts at the offensive board (9 in the first half) helped Alba to stay alive until halftime. Petrovic scored most of his points on offensive rebounds in the closing minutes and finished the first half with 14 points. Asvel devoleped dangerous fastbreaks, most of them finished by Karim Souchou, which brought the French team within 40-37 at the break.
Stanojevic and Gulyas opened the second half with layups as Asvel remained in its zone defense. Best and Collins scored 7 points to boost Alba's lead to 49-41, but the hosts also missed several three-pointers. The misses gave Asvel the chance to cut the lead, after a huge triple by Mrazek, to 55-53. Alba now had to go inside, where Stanojevic had been battling with Gulyas for 25 minutes without too much success. Finally, however, Stanojevic found a way to score some points and bring Alba ahead 59-53. Asvel was unwilling to surrender, as Gulyas and Owens answered to cut the lead to 59-57. Evans scored with the siren on a final fastbreak so Alba could claim a 61-57 edge after 30 minutes.
Collins hit a huge three-pointer early in the final quarter for Alba, but three misses from downtown right let Souchou and Dioumassi tie for Asvel at 64-64. Best put Alba back up with a triple, but Asvel answered coolly with Owens and Gulyas for a 67-68 lead. Collins then saved Alba with another triple for 70-68. With only 2 minutes left to play, nervousness could be seen in both teams. Petrovic missed two free-throws, but came up with a layup to make it 74-71. Both teams missed a lot of their shots, but Alba rebounded better: Collins with a quick drives gave Alba a comfortable 76-71 edge just 1 minute before the siren. Souchou shortened that to 76-73 for Asvel, but the last words of the game came from Petrovic and Evans, who sealed Alba's 80-73 victory.
Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Horst Schneider, Berlin