Red Star edged Spirou Charleroi 93-91 to hand the Belgian champs their first loss of the season. The win also improved Red Star to 4-1, but it was unable to overtake the 6-point deficit from their first meeting. Red Star, which like Spirou had already qualified for the Last 16, can only win the group if it beats Brose Baskets next week and Spirou falls to PGE Turow. Red Star led throughout the second half and was ahead by 10 late in the fourth quarter. But Charleroi, led by Wes Wilkinson and Jerry Johnson, came back and even though it wasn’t enough to win, the visitors may have earned first place in Group F by doing so. Lawrence Roberts led Red Star with 20 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Marko Keselj added 14 points, Marko Marinovic had 13 points and 5 assists, Andre Owens was good for 12 points, 5 assists and 5 steals and Vladimir Stimac added 11 points. Johnson recorded 20 points and 7 assist – both season highs – for Spirou, while Matt Walsh added 16, Wilkinson 15 and Justin Hamilton posted 13 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Elmedin Kikanovic opened fire with a three-point play but Wilkinson tied it with a bomb. That was the sign for Roberts and Keselj to do the same on the other end. Keselj hit one more from behind the arc as the hosts went ahead 14-7. Charleroi was trying to go inside, but Marinovic established a promising lead with two layups. When Len Matela entered, he pushed Spirou to a 2-8 run and the visitors’ first lead, 24-26. Owens scored on the offensive glass to give Red Star a 27-26 lead at the end of the first period. In the second period, Red Star made a 12-4 run as the lead reached 45-36 thanks to Roberts’s rebounding and Keselj’s long-range shooting, but after a series of mistakes Spirou closed the gap to 48-43 and 53-50 some minutes later. Marinovic and Walsh traded triples as the scoreboard showed 56-53 at the half.
Jure Lalic of Spirou fell into foul trouble at the very start of second half. Roberts scored a second-chance basket and an Owens steal led to 2 more. Wilkinson and Keselj traded triples before Red Star fans pushed the team to its first double-digit lead, 69-58. The visitors answered with harder defensive work and a 0-5 run to get within 74-69 at the end of third period. Johnson caught fire and Hamilton joined him before Marinovic and Roberts hit from downtown at the other end of the court. Spirou switched to a zone defense, but the deficit remained 5 to 7 points. With two minutes to play, Kikanovic scored twice from the line giving his team a 91-81 lead. Wilkinson and Johnson led Charleroi to 7 straight points, but Kikanovic restored Red Star’s control with points from the line. After a Spirou turnover, Roberts missed a bomb that could have given his team enough of a win to overturn the loss in Belgium, but the hosts were still happy to take the win.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009