Inspired by an impressive David Frigout, who confronted one of the best frontlines in Europe, Adecco Asvel Basket managed to preserve its chances in the Group D with an unexpected 73-71 victory over visiting Tau Vitoria from Spain. In spite of Luis Scola's 19 points, the French team, swept during the first outing between the two teams, could rely on a balanced offense and the master of dirty job: Frigout. John Celestand, with 14 points, was the only scorer to reach double figures for the winners, but six others scored either 8 or 9 points. Besides Scola, Tau saw Fabricio Oberto hit for 15 and Dejan Tomasevic for 10, but the visitors backcourt could never get untracked against Asvel's defense. Asvel raises its record to 4-5 and a burst of new life among six teams vying for four places to advance in the group. Tau drops to 5-4 and fourth place after Scavolini won at Cibona to move up.
Badly beaten by 24 points in the first game against Vitoria, the French team decided to show that they could play better than what they showed in Spain. Thanks to a strong Tim Nees (5 of the first 7 points for ASVEL), Boscia Tanjevic's team led 14 to 9 after six minutes on a John Celestand three-pointer. Tau, in spite of its strong inside game and the smartness of its playmaker Elmer Bennett, could only witness a hot Celestand - 10 points in the quarter - give a four points advantage to ASVEL at the end of the quarter, 25-21.
Seven minutes into the second quarter, the Asvel fans were a bit stunned to see their team lead by eight (38-30) after two consecutive three-pointers, by Simon Petrov and Kyle Hill. What had happened? Petrov had provoked the third foul of Dejan Tomasevic, David Frigout had played huge defense on Tomasevic, notably, and Tau had turned a lot of balls over. In fact, everything seemed to work perfectly for a confident home team. Only eight points by Luis Scola in the quarter allowed Tau to expect an easier second half after making it to the lockers down only 42-38.
Tau eventually took the lead, but only after nine minutes in the third quarter, on an inside pop-in of Scola. In spite of decent defense, Asvel's offensive inefficiency became a problem , as it managed only four points, two Amara Sy dunks, over five minutes. On the other hand, a good Nikola Vujcic put Tomasevic and Fabricio Oberto in foul trouble (their fourth each with 14 minutes to go), and with two consecutive steals Asvel managed to dig another small lead, 55-51, though that came down to two, 55-53, by the end of the quarter.
Inspired by the possibility of upsetting the mighty Tau Vitoria, Asvel displayed gutsy basketball in the fourth quarter. Frigout, specialist of the dirty job, drew the fifth foul of Tomasevic, grabbed several of the numerous Asvel offensive rebounds, scored six points in five minutes, hustled on every play and finally put the scoreboard at 65-57 in the 35th minute. Tau answered, as usual, with its remaining inside players, Scola and Fabricio Oberto, and with two minutes to play the game was still up for the grabs at 65-65. Nikola Radulovic seemed to have put an end to Tau's hopes on a jumper as the shot clock expired that made it 70-66 with 40 seconds to go, but 35 seconds later, thanks to a Scola three-pointer, Mindaugas Timinskas had the shot to send the teams in overtime. He missed, Oberto tipped it in, but after Sy hit a free throw at the other end, time expired on a big 73-71 Asvel win.
Wednesday, December 19, 2001
Fabien Friconnet, Paris