By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
LDLC ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne doubled-up early in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season with a win, 71-67, on the road against ALBA Berlin on Friday evening.
Chris Jones registered a game-high 24 points, off 15 points in the final quarter. Elie Okobo carried recent momentum with 13 points and seven rebounds in the Round 2 match. Kostas Antetokounmpo had nine points, four rebounds, and two blocks, before fouling out late in the contest.
“The objective was to get stops and keep them off the offensive rebounds. We really didn’t do too good of a job with the offensive rebounds, especially on the road. But we got stops when we needed them, and we executed down the stretch,” explained Jones, “We believe in each other. We have confidence. We’re trying to build something right now. Today was a big win for us and hopefully, we just keep it going.”
The team coached by T.J. Parker had ten turnovers in the first quarter and 20 overall at the Mercedes-Benz Arena but improved to 2-0. The defense did the trick playing at the home of 2022 Final Four as the hosts were forced to 12 turnovers of their own and limited to 6/33 from beyond the arc, 48.6% from the field.
“Twenty turnovers is way too many in a game like this,” pointed out Parker, “And Berlin, you have to give them credit. They played with a lot of intensity. Our team made a good fight and got the stops we needed to get the W. We can win games in the EuroLeague with defense. The offense comes and goes. If we can take care of the basketball and make shots, we’re a good team.”
“We’re just trying to play hard together as a team,” added Antetokounmpo, “We’re trying to work at the defensive end. We made some mistakes, but our defense helped us.”
The French champions have prevailed in all four 2021-22 fixtures so far, including the 2-0 record in the Betclic Elite LNB Pro A. The perfect start was extended despite missing Raymar Morgan (back), David Lighty (personal), Antoine Diot (calf), and Victor Wembanyama (sick) at Germany’s capital.
An early seven-point advantage for the team coached by Israel Gonzalez was met by a 13-0 sprint by ASVEL to restore its lead in the second quarter. The visitors started building safer distance after the break and held on down the stretch, taking better care of the ball and locking down on defense.
“We couldn’t make our shots. We chose a bad day to miss our shots. But I’m happy with the effort of the team and the defense we had today,” stated the German team’s boss, “We can improve but I think we are on a good path. The thing is we need to score when we are open.”
Maodo Lo matched his career-high 22 points connecting four triples in the losing effort. Oscar da Silva went for 14 points, six rebounds, and three steals in his EuroLeague debut. Marcus Eriksson, Christ Koumadje, Christoph Tilly, and Johannes Thiemann were all out along with the latest addition to the injury list Ben Lammers, who will miss several weeks.
Both teams are heading to a domestic fixture on Sunday prior to the first EuroLeague double-game week of the season. The German champions will visit MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, and from there host Fenerbahce Beko on Tuesday and Baskonia on Thursday. The losing side will take on JDA Dijon, before Anadolu Efes on Tuesday and Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv get their turns at Astroballe.