Lukoil Academic Sofia edged 66-62 Asvel Basket at the end of a back-and-forth game to become the Group D leader with a 2-0 record. Academic started strong and took an early 17-4 lead. Asvel came back to tie the score at 19-19, but the hosts escaped again early in the third quarter, 44-28. Asvel climbed within 48-42, but Academic held on and pushed ahead 55-44. Another 9-0 Asvel run opened a thrilling finale where the free throws were crucial. Brandon Heat led the way for the winners with 18 points on 4 of 8 from downtown, Lamont Mack added 13 while Dejan Stojnovski nailed 8. Dijon Thompson led Asvel with 12 points, Edwin Jackson and Ronny Turiaf drilled 11 apiece and Phil Goss had 10.
Brandon Heath highlighted a 9-2 run Sofia run to start game, which Eurocup all-time scoring leader Todor Stoykov capped from midrange. Leo Westermann tried to keep his side alive with a layup, but the hosts sparked another 8-0 spurt with triples from Heath and Mack to lead 17-4. Goss and Turiaf put Asvel in charge by scoring all points in an 11-2 run to finish the first quarter on 19-15 for the hosts. Jamie Skeen tied the score at 19-19 at the end of a 2-15 run of the French side. Big man Bruno Sundov with a three-point-play gave a 25-21 margin to the hosts, but then Dijon Thompson and Turiaf made it 25-24. Academic improved its defensive intensity, controlled the boards and found easy fastbreak points. Heath from downtown capped a 14-4 run to finish 39-28 at halftime.
Andre Owens’s triple extended the advantage to 44-28 early in the third quarter and gave a comfortable margin to Lukoil Academic, but Asvel again was able to get back behind the explosion of Thompson and Kim Tillie, who combined for all the points of a 4-14 run to stay within 48-42. Damjan Stojanovski scored his attempts from the foul line and Paul Lacombe posted a long jumper to finish the third quarter on 50-44 for the home team. A Stojanovski jumper and the deep three pointer by Bozidhar Avramov gave a double-figure advantage to Academic, 55-44, which excited the crowd. Seven points in a row scored by Jackson carried Asvel to 55-53. A Tencho Banev dunk was followed by Turiaf scoring in the paint and at the midway point of the last quarter it was 58-55 for the perennial Bulgarian champs. Heath and Thompson exchanged baskets, Turiaf scored just 1 of his 2 free throws, before Heath’s long distance shot made it 63-58 with less than two minutes left in the game. Goss scored from midrange, but Stojanovski posted just a free throw. Tillie both his attempts, then with 12 seconds left Heath drained one to go on 65-62. But Goss missed the triple tie with 8 seconds left and Heath sealed the home team’s win from the foul line.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011