Afik Nissim led four Strasbourg scorers in double figures with 20 points as his team hung on to edge Latvian champion Ventspils 72-68 on Tuesday in France. Strasbourg improved to 3-0, as it remains on top in Group B. Ventspils dropped to 1-2. Nissim scored his points when they counted most, drilling back-to-back threes at the end of the first period to keep Strasbourg in the picture after the hosts fell behind 13-21. His next big basket came late in the fourth quarter with another triple in the final minute that made it 70-64. Nissim sealed the win with a pair of free throws. Chuck Eidson had another big night with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists, while Claude Marquis added 11 and Aerick Sanders 10. Marquis and Sanders also grabbed 8 rebounds apiece as Strasbourg outrebounded its opponent 45-34. Dusan Jelic scored 8 of his team-high 15 in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough. Eddie Shanon added 12 and Aigars Vitols 11.
Ventspils won the opening tip and Jelic made a layup for the game's first points. Nissim answered with a pair of free throws, but back-to-back Vitols and Uvis Helmanis triples followed by Shannon's layup made it 4-13 for the visitors. Lonnie Cooper and Marquis helped close the gap, but the Latvian champs remained ahead and even increased the lead to 13-21 after a Helmanis jumper. Dirk Madrich came off the bench for a triple and Nissim stepped up with a pair from beyond the arc to bring Strasbourg within 22-24 after 10 minutes. John McCord tied the score and Madrich put Strasbourg ahead early in the second period, but Darlon Johnson scored the next 5 points to swing the lead back Ventspils's way. Justin Love's three made it 26-32, but Strasbourg couldn't get closer than 4 until Michael Smith made a free throw to cut the gap to 33-36 before halftime.
Shannon started the second half with a triple that set the tone, but Sanders and Marquis powered a 6-0 spurt to tie the score at 40-40. The team's traded baskets for a minute until Ventspils hit a bump and Cooper nailed a three to make it 50-44. The hosts continued to slowly plug away with McCord giving them a 7-point lead, before Helmanis drilled a triple to end the third quarter with the Strasbourg ahead 56-52. Shannon started the fourth period by bringing Ventspils within 2 with a jumper, but Smith and Sanders added layups to keep Strasbourg in control. Two scoreless minutes passed until Jelic retaliated with a layup. Shannon and then later Jelic cut the lead to 3 midway through the period, but each time Strasbourg had an answer. Eidson made two from the line with three minutes to go to increase Strasbourg's advantage to 66-61, but again Jelic cut the gap to 3. Then Nissim's lone free throw was matched by just one from Shannon. But then Nissim drilled a three as Strasbourg started to feel comfortable. After a timeout, Johnson corrected a Shannon miss, but Ventspils needed to foul and stop the clock. Nissim stepped up to the line and made two to give him 20 points on the night, essentially ending the visitors' hopes as Strasbourg scored a 72-68 win.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006