By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Khalid El-Amin (photo) and Le Mans proved that you should never underestimate the underdog. The French team prevailed over Russian Unics Kazan, an impressive roster with two former Panathinaikos players, Ian Vougioukas and Kostas Kaimakoglou, and one former Barcelona forward, Chuck Eidson, who were added in the summer in order to make the team competitive in Euroleague level.
However, Le Mans beat them fair and square (86-78) and will face Cantu, the host of Euroleague qualifying round, in Friday’s final. In that game it will be decided which will be the team that will complete the 24 Euroleague participants. Center J.P.Batista with 20 points and 10 rebounds was the best player of Le Mans, but the undisputed leader was former NCAA champion Khalid El-Amin with 12 points and 4 assists.
Cantu won the game against Nymburk and the final 89-83 doesn’t tell the whole truth. With a 13-0 run between the end of third and the start of fourth quarter the Italians got a 17 points lead (74-57) and the Czech champions managed just to trim the final point difference to six. Italian guard Pietro Aradori with 19 points was the top scorer for the winners and American guard Jerry Smith added 16 points and 5 assists. Nymburk and Unics Kazan will compete at Eurocup.