Valencia Basket became the first team to qualify to the Last 16 in Group D by beating Asvel Basket 96-88 at home on Tuesday. Valencia improved to 4-1 and will win Group D if it beats Telenet Oostende next week or if Lukoil Academic downs Asvel Basket in a make-or-break game for both teams. Asvel dropped to 3-2 and needs to down Lukoil next week to survive. A.J. Ogilvy and Rafa Martinez led the winners with 16 points apiece. Rihards Kuksiks added 15, Nando De Colo had 13 while Nik Caner-Medley and Serhiy Lishchuk each got 12 for Valencia. Hilton Armstrong led Asvel with 13 points. Paul Lacombe and Kim Tillie each added 12, Leo Westermann had 11 and Edwin Jackson 10. Asvel led 13-16 midway through the second quarter but Ogilvy helped Valencia to get a 20-16 edge after 10 minutes. Bangaly Fofana helped Asvel to tie the game for the last time, 27-27. Lishchuk, De Colo and Ogilvy fueled a 16-3 run that broke the game open, 49-34. Valencia boosted its margin to 73-52 early in the fourth quarter and kept a 94-77 with 1:30 left but a final 2-11 run allowed Asvel to get the tie-break advantage.
De Colo got Valencia going with a three-pointer that Jackson matched in the other end. Back-to-back dunks by Lishchuk and Caner-Medley, however, soon gave Valencia a 7-3 lead. Armstrong scored down low and Tillie added a jumper but Lishchuk followed a slam with free throws for an 11-7 Valencia lead. Westermann and Caner-Medley exchanged baskets but a put-back layup by Jamie Skeen ignited a 0-7 run in which Dijon Thompson had 5 points to give Asvel a 13-16 margin. De Colo stepped up with a three-point play and soon added another basket in a 7-0 run that restored a 20-16 Valencia lead. Lacombe scored around the basket but Ogilvy and Stefan Markovic gave the hosts a 23-18 edge after 10 minutes. Ogilvy hit free throws early in the second quarter but a 0-7 run that Jackson capped with a tie made Asvel tie it at 25-25. Martinez sank a jumper and Ogilvy erased Fofana's layup with his own basket for a 29-27 score. Lishchuk hit free throws and back-to-back triples by De Colo and Kuksiks boosted the hosts' lead to 37-27, after a 10-0 run. Lacombe answered from downtown but De Colo and Kuksiks kept pacing Valencia and a dunk by Ogilvy capped a 6-0 run and gave the hosts a 43-30 margin. Tillie hit a jumper and Armstrong dunked it but Ogilvy kept Valencia way ahead, 46-34. A buzzer-beating triple by Martinez broke the game open, 49-34, at halftime.
Lishchuk scored down low right after the break but consecutive put-back baskets by Tillie and Armstrong brought Asvel within 51-38. Tillie kept pacing Asvel with a four-meter jumper but Markovic bettered it with a three-pointer and free throws by Caner-Medley restored a 56-40 Valencia margin. Armstrong took over with a wild fast break dunk and traded foul shots with Lishchuk to get Asvel within 58-44. Jackson did not miss from the foul line but a big three-pointer by Martinez kept Valencia way out of trouble, 61-46. Jackson buried a jumper but a layup by Markovic and a fast break basket by Caner-Medley forced Asvel to call timeout at 65-48. Phil Goss, who had been scoreless until now, made 4-of-4 free throws but Martinez allowed Valencia to get a 67-52 margin after 30 minutes. Asvel needed a quick comeback to get back in the game. Martinez buried back-to-back triples early in the fourth quarter to seal the outcome, 73-52, with 9 minutes to go. Far from being done, Valencia tried to offer some showtime to its fans. Westermann and Tillie had all points in a 1-6 run that got Asvel within 74-58. Ogilvy took over with an alleyoop dunk, Kuksiks nailed a catch-and-shoot triple and Caner-Medley added a driving layup but Westermann and Armstrong kept Asvel within 81-64. Everything seemed to be said and done already, but Skeen, Jean-Charles Livio and Lacombe allowed Asvel to get the tie-break advantage in the final 2 minutes.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011