Virtus Bologna got back in the thick of the Group C race on Thursday with a 74-88 comeback win on the road at Adecco Asvel. After trailing by 11 in the second quarter, a 3-18 run after halftime sent Virtus on its way to a 4-4 record, good for a foruth-place tie with Olympiacos. Asvel fell to fifth place at 3-5. Derrick Dial led the winners with 21 points and was backed by Charlie Bell with 18, Dejan Koturovic with 16 and Antoine Rigaudeau with 13. Asvel, held to a single field goal and outscored 11-27 in that third quarter, got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Vasco Evtimov, 12 pointsfrom Robert Gulyas and 10 from Sasha Giffa. The Virtus victory had the added feature of having come in head coach Bogdan Tanjevic's first return to Asvel after leading that club to its first French League title in 21 years last spring.
The pre-game speech to Asvel's players from Phillipe Herve was obviously about challenging Virtus inside. After 3 minutes played, Gulyas had already taken 4 shots in the paint. After 6 minutes, the whole Asvel frontcourt was changed. If you add two fastbreaks and two penetrations, you have a pretty good idea what was the plan on offense. On the other side, Virtus seemed to have a different idea: The visitors took 8 three pointers in the first quarter. They both worked, as after 7 minutes the score was still tied. But then Asvel inflicted an 8-0 run in 2 minutes, forcing a timeout on Virtus coach Bogdan Tanjevic. Back on the court, Virtus scored 5 points in a row, but Thierry Gadou had a great three-point buzzer beater on a classical pick and roll with Stevin Smith, giving Asvel a six-points lead, 24-18, after 10 minutes. Virtus had trouble getting going in the second quarter, while Harold Mrazek shot a perfect 2 for 2 in less than 2 minutes to give Asvel its biggest lead so far, 31-23. To keep up the pace, Herve made three subs at the same time after 5 minutes in the quarter, but the changes backfired. Virtus took advantage with a big triple by German Scarone and a basket inside from Dejan Koturovic. Ahead by only 3 points, 33-30, with 4 minutes to go, Asvel got 3 timely from Simon Petrov. But only Sasha Giffa was able to score in the last 3 minutes until the half for Asvel. Meanwhile, Derrick Dial scored 6 himself in the final 90 seconds to tie the game at the half 40-40.
One basket. That's it. In an incredible third quarter, Virtus held Asvel to one single basket and 9 free throws. The hosts stayed mute, without a field goal, for 5 long minutes as Virtus rolled out a 3-10 run after the half. A timeout didn't help now either, as Virtus added an 8-0 run on top of the first one for a 15-point lead, 58-43. In the last 3 minutes, Asvel scored 8 of its 11 points, with 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Virtus had 10 points including its 2 threes of the quarter. Dial had 9 points in the quarter with a nine-meter buzzer beater to put Virtus completely in comand, 51-67, after 30 minutes.
Asvel started the fourth trying a zone, but Virtus scored 4 points in a row giving to seize a 20-point lead, 51-71. Asvel decided to struggle harder and Evtimov showed his fighting spirit with 7 points and 5 rebounds in this quarter. Smith made 2 steals and 2 baskets but Asvel couldn't get closer than 11 points, 72-83. Rigaudeau added 5 points and 2 assists to lead his team to the victory and avenge the loss in Bologna in the first game of the season.
Thursday, December 12, 2002