Valencia survives thriller in opener
Valencia Basket opened its Euroleague season with a 65-63 home win over visiting LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Thursday night. The visitors, who trailed by 12 points in the second quarter and were down by 8 with less than 4 minutes left in the last, never gave up and tied the game with 26 seconds remaining. Sam Van Rossom scored a layup with 16 seconds to go and ASVEL had the last shot to win the game, but Amine Noua missed a buzzer-beating three-point attempt that allowed Valencia to celebrate. Derrick Williams had a strong debut with Valencia with 15 points and 5 rebounds and Mike Tobey scored 10. LDLC ASVEL was led by Moustapha Fall with 14 points. Norris Cole followed with 11 points and 6 assists.
Cole and Fall had a strong start and fueled the visitors to an early 6-9 lead after 4 minutes. With the center dominating the boards, Valencia decided to use Tobey against him instead of foul-troubled Bojan Dubljevic and looked for Nikola Kalinic and Williams in offense. That turned into a 12-2 run that sent the hosts int front, 18-11, in a blink of an eye. Charles Kahudi stopped the bleeding the first three-pointer of the night, followed by another one by Allerik Freeman to close the first quarter with ASVEL trailing 18-17. Klemen Prepelic took over with a basket-plus-foul and a three-pointer. Joan Sastre and Tobey joined him later to help Valencia regain a comfortable margin, 28-21. David Lighty and Kevarrius Hayes tried to slow the hosts down, but they recovered momentum quite easily thanks to a nice post move by Jaime Pradilla and a three-pointer by Guillem Vives, who scored 5 on a 9-0 run that boosted the lead to double-digits, 37-25. It was an old friend, Antoine Diot, who ended the drought for ASVEL with a deep three that woke ASVEL up. Cole scored and Noua connected from downtown to reduce the gap to 37-33 at halftime.
Williams sustained Valencia’s offense but found no help from anyone else after the break. Cole scored a flashy layup and Fall converted twice under the rim to tie it 41-41, forcing Valencia to call timeout midway through the third quarter. Fall had a monster dunk after that to get ASVEL back in front, but was held scoreless for the following 4 minutes. A corner three by Williams returned the lead to Valencia, 48-43. Cole answered with another bucket to allow ASVEL to remain close at the end of the third quarter. Tobey and Freeman traded baskets and then Martin Hermannsson took over and Prepelic scored an acrobatic layup to make it 58-51. The guests were unable to find any solution from outside, as only Fall managed to hurt Valencia’s defense in the paint. Paul Lacombe came to the rescue with a corner three and another basket to bring ASVEL within 61-58. Even though Dubljevic cooled it down for Valencia with a tip-in, Noua answered in the paint to make it 63-60. Lacombe came up big with another corner three to tie the game with just 26 seconds left. Van Rossom scored a quick layup with 16 seconds to go to put Valencia in front again, 65-63. Valencia used fouls to steal as much as time they could from ASVEL’s shot clock, leaving the visitors with just 4 seconds to draw a winning play. Noua found an open three attempt, but the ball hit the rim to allow Valencia to escape with the first win of the season.
Fouls to give
Valencia took advantage of the fact it still had 3 fouls to give entering the last minute. It decided to score a quick basket after Lacombe tied the game with 26 seconds to go and foul ASVEL players three times to steal time. It proved right, even though Noua could have won it for ASVEL at the buzzer.
Derrick Williams had a sweet debut wearing his new jersey, as he was the top scorer for Valencia with 15 points. Nine of them came in the third quarter, in which Valencia’s scored just 14. He showed up for a corner three to get Valencia back in front, 45-43, when ASVEL came back after the break, to fuel Valencia when it struggled most.
Did you notice?
The game saw five players making their Euroleague debut. Valencia’s Jaime Pradilla played just 3 minutes, but had his first points after a nice post-up move, while Moustapha Fall was ASVEL top scorer with 14 points in 23 minutes. Allerik Freeman and Kevarrius Hayes had 5 and 4, respectively, playing 18 and 13 minutes each. Brian Howard remained scoreless in 6 minutes.
In Round 2 next week, Valencia won’t move far away as it visits Spanish League foe Real Madrid on Thursday, October 8. LDLC ASVEL will play abroad again and travels to Italy to face AX Armani Exchange Milan the next day.
Thursday, October 1, 2020