LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne put on the kind of shooting show rarely seen this early in downing Olympiacos Piraeus 74-57 in the semifinal opener of the WE'RE BACK PRESEASON TOUR on Tuesday in Valencia, Spain. ASVEL failed to score for the game's first few minutes but owned the three-point line thereafter, drilling 12 of 28 from deep to take control of the scoreboard before halftime. Allerik Freeman led the onslaught with 4 triples among his 14 points. Norris Cole and Moustapha Fall added 12 points each while David Lighty had 11, including 3 threes. ASVEL was just as impressive on defense, holding Olympiacos to just two double-digit scorers, Octavius Ellis with 12 points and Hassan Martin with a double-double of 10 and 10 rebounds.
Olympiacos followed Georgios Printezis and Kostas Sloukas to a quick 0-6 lead. Cole finally hit ASVEL's first basket after three-and-a-half minutes, but that was the spark his team needed for a 12-2 run capped by triples from Charles Kahudi and Freeman. ASVEL kept it going to stay ahead 14-12 after 10 minutes. Sasha Vezenkov tied twice for Olympiacos early in the second quarter, but three-pointers by Amine Noua and Lighty restored a 24-20 advantage for ASVEL. Both defenses stood out for a while until Lighty's next triple helped send ASVEL into halftime leading 32-25. Fall dunked and Lighty buried a corner triple for a high lead of 37-25 before Shaquielle McKissik drilled the game's first triple for Olympiacos. Freeman answered in kind, however, and Fall continued dominating inside as ASVEL glided to a 55-45 difference after 30 minutes. Cole's first three-pointer made it 60-47 early in the fourth quarter, and much as Hassan Martin and Octavius Ellis tried to keep Olympiacos close, it was still 63-53 with 4 minutes left. ASVEL just kept it going until the finish.
ASVEL's newcomers were impressive throughout. Norris Cole was a clear team leader and finished with 12 points. Allerik Freemen came off the bench to hit 4 three-pointers. And the 2.18-meter Moustapha Fall proved too much for Olympiacos to handle with 12 points and 5 rebounds. The fact that those three fill key spots at point guard, sharpshooter and center for ASVEL shows that team's work filling the roster was as precise as its shooting.
It seemed just like old times as Sloukas and Printezis combined for the game's first 6 points. Both baskets by Printezis were assisted by Sloukas, who hit his own in between. Although it had been five years since they were on the same club team, Olympiacos the duo has worked together during a couple of summers with the Greek national team. Still, the way they seemed not to miss a beat early on Tuesday was impressive.
ASVEL took over the scoreboard from the three-point line, where it made 5 first-half shots in 12 tries to 0-for-5 from Olympiacos. By the time that Shaquielle McKissik hit the first shot from deep Olympiacos early in the second half, David Lighty had hit his third and soon Freeman buried his second, both supplying double-digit leads that proved very difficult for the Reds to overcome without shooting better from deep themselves. In the end, the 12 to 1 difference in shots made from downtown was everything you had to know about this game.
He's a 2.02-meter forward with a lot of bulk who has been called a dancing bear, but on Tuesday Guerschon Yabusele was everything but a scorer. He pulled 6 rebounds, dealt 6 assists, made 4 steals and blocked a shot while attempting few shots and scoring only 4 points. His presence was everything for ASVEL, especially on defense, and his fantastic dishes, including one no-look wraparound from the baseline to the three-point arc near the end, were truly rare for a power forward.
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne
T.J. Parker, head coach
"For sure, it's a good win for us. We had all our games in France and we were excited for this EuroLeague team to play at a high level in a good competition, and it was a really good game for us. For us, defense is going to be the game plan every time. You can't give anything easy to these great teams. And offensively, that's the goal, to play together, share the ball and get open shots."
Moustapha Fall, center
"It's just a friendly game. Everybody's trying to build some chemistry. I'm just trying to find my place with this team and see what's going to happen. I will try to do this all season. It's a long season. We cannot be happy after one friendly game, so we will see."
Allerik Freeman, guard
"I thought we finished the game very strong. I thought we played well as a team, and our defense was really good to hold them to so few points. I always think that we can do a lot of things better. That's just the job of the preseason, to continue to try to get better on the little things. it's a long season and we just want to keep improving."
Georgios Bartzokas, head coach
"For us it was, after a long period like every team, without games at this level, and trying to build up a new team, having nine new players, it was a great opportunity to see what is our level right now. It looks like our performance was really poor, and I cannot separate defense from offense, even if we shot 7% on threes, 1 of 14, some of them wide open, but we missed them. We turned the ball over 14 or 1º5 times, a huge number at this level to be competitive in the game. So first we need to protect the ball, to play with more confidence, to find each other. And on defense we need to play more aggressive because the physicality in the EuroLeague is very big and we need to play the same. A lot of things to improve, but at the same time, I didn't expect anything different."
Hassan Martin, center
"It was our first tough game. Obviously we have a lot to work on defensively, offensively. But we're still building up and, like I said, it's a long season and we've got a lot of work to do. I'm excited for it."