Mincidelice JL Bourg en Bresse had been something of a hard-luck loser in the first half of the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season. The French club reached the midway point of the season with a 2-7 record, but it could have been much better.
Bourg led in the fourth quarter on the road in Round 5 at Valencia Basket, where it scored 95 points, but lost by 3. It took Group B leader Buducnost VOLI Podgorica to the wire in Round 8 before falling by 4 at home. And last week it lost by a single point at Virtus Segafredo Bologna.
So when Bourg blew a double-digit deficit in Italy against Umana Reyer Venice on Tuesday, another narrow loss could have been expected. However, the team bonded together with different players making big plays one after another to stay in the game, setting the stage for CJ Harris’s game-winning three-pointer on the buzzer.
“It’s a great win,” Coach Laurent Legname smiled after the final buzzer. “It’s a tough season with many injuries, many close games and every time we lost. Tonight for once, we switched that and won a close game. And I am really happy for my players. They deserved that. The last quarter was really a war. They score, we score, they scored, we scored. We made one or two mistakes, let too many offenses rebounds, but for one time it went on our side and I am really happy.”
The score was tied four times in the fourth quarter alone. After Michele Vitali led Reyer’s comeback and the home team took its first lead since the fourth quarter, Bourg could have folded. Instead, Maxime Courby tied it with free throws and the back-and-forth drama over the final few minutes began.
Over the final 3 minutes, three different Bourg players made go-ahead buckets. First was a Jalen Jones triple for a 73-74 edge. After Andrew De Nicolao evened things, Axel Julien knifed into the Reyer defense for a go-ahead floater with 43.7 seconds to go. Bourg denied Reyer on defense and had a chance to seal the win, but Mitchell Watt made a great defensive play to stop Rasheed Sulaimon and Stefano Tonut tied it with a jumper with 10.8 seconds left.
That left just enough time left for Bourg, however, when Harris missed a layup and Alexandre Chassang missed the follow-up, the ball bounced out of bounds with 1.8 seconds left. The game seemed destined for overtime. And then Harris won it with a three at the buzzer.
As the above paragraphs attest to, so many players came up big when needed in the closing minutes. The team effort can also be seen in the box score as five different Bourg players scored in double figures, eight of the 10 players in uniform dished at least 1 assist and nine of them collected at least 1 rebound.
The victory was Bourg’s first road win of the season and snapped a 10-game slide on the road that lasted over a year. Bourg’s last road win was in Round 5 of the regular season in October 2020 when it defeated Partizan NIS Belgarde 76-89. Only three players from that game (Hugo Benitez, Courby and Pierre Pelos) played on Tuesday.
The win could also be a sign of a turnaround for the second half of the regular season. Bourg plays three of its next four games at home – and the lone road trip is to face Promitheas Patras, which Bourg demolished by 30 at home in Round 3. But for now, Bourg is not thinking that far ahead. The players just want to enjoy this thrilling victory.
As Harris said after the game: “Everything is good when you win.”