By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
Chris Jones scored a new EuroLeague career-high 25 points to lead ASVEL Villeurbanne to an 85 – 82 victory over Unics Kazan at home. This was the third win in a row for the French side that is currently occupying the third spot in the standings.
“We believe in ourselves,” Jones said. “People made doubt us, but we have a good group of guys out here and like I said we believe in each other. We got the stops that we needed. We slowed them down in transition, we kind of slowed them down on offensive rebounds and it helped us out in the end. I feel good. I have great confidence from my coach, my teammates. I have great players around me and they make it kind of easy on me.
Jones also scored a key pair of free throws to put ASVEL up 85 – 79 with 16 seconds to play. It was crucial for ASVEL to pull away at such a distance since Mario Hezonja was locked and loaded and finished the match with a 3-pointer that set a new career-high for him at 27 points.
David Lighty had 19 points and Elie Okobo contributed 13 out of his 17 points in the second half while scoring some important baskets down the stretch to help push back a comeback attempt by Unics from down 10, three minutes into the fourth quarter. The Russian side trailed 70 – 80 but reduced that deficit to 81 – 79 with 49 seconds remaining after a tough basket by Hezonja. Free throws by Lighty and Jones kept ASVEL safe.
It was Unics that started the game better, leading 25 – 30 halfway through the second period. ASVEL recovered quickly to get a 39 – 36 advantage by halftime and then even led up to 12 points, 65 – 53, a bit before the end of the third quarter.
“We couldn’t stop them on offense at the end of the game,” Unics coach Velimir Perasovic said. His team dropped to 3-5 after suffering its first loss following two straight wins. “They scored too easily in the second half. It was a great performance by their players. We always tried, but we didn’t have a real opportunity. When we got to 2 points, they made free throws and it is really difficult to win here if you can’t stop them in one-on-one situations.”
A change in style
ASVEL coach TJ Parker commented on the modifications he had to made for his team to successfully face Unics and take the victory.
“It was an amazing game,” Parker said. “Kazan played a good game. We didn’t play uptempo today. Not the best game, but to come out with a win not playing as you wanted, hey, I’ll take it all night. [Kazan] came with a different team. Some of the guys didn’t play, they played small ball and we had to adapt.”
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball