Euroleague Qualifying

Euroleague Qualifying, final game set

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Euroleague Qualifying
We are at the business end of the Euroleague Qualifying tournament after the final was locked today, with ASVEL Lyon and Unics Kazan booking their place in the do or die showpiece on Friday evening. Both clubs will now go toe to toe on the hardwood of Sleuyter Arena in Belgium to decide which will progress to the Euroleague season.
In this tournament there can be only one.

Unics Kazan vs. Hapoel Jerusalem, 82-71
Russian club Unics Kazan is one step away from reaching the Euroleague regular season after outlasting Israeli outfit Hapoel Jerusalem courtesy of a second half comeback. Unics picked up 27 defensive rebounds and spread the scoring around the roster to counter a Hapoel effort that looked dangerous during the opening 20 minutes.

Keith Langford got the scoreboard ticking from downtown, but Yotam Halperin and Derwin Kitchen responded with triple for Hapoel, meaning all 9 of the opening points came from behind the arc. The Israeli team opened a 5-12 lead before Kazan went on an 11-2 run to snatch back the initiative. Jerusalem hit back with the last score of the opening quarter to tie the game at 16-16.

Tony Gaffney and Yaniv Green scored quickly for Jerusalem at the start of the second and it was a pattern that continued through the second frame. Unics took a 9-2 run, but Hapoel responded with a 9-0 run of their own and opened a 10 point cushion later in the quarter (31-41). Unics shut up in defence to stop the baskets for the remainder of the half, but nevertheless, at the long break Hapoel Jerusalem led 35-41.

Kitchen hit from three distance to open the quarter for Jerusalem and put Unics on the ropes. However, the Russian team responded well as D’or Fischer sparked a 13-2 run that gave Kazan the lead at 48-46. The teams traded for the lead throughout the middle minutes of the third, but Unics snatched the period 23-13 to lead 58-54 after 30 minutes.

White and Fischer combined for 5 points to extend the lead for Unics at the start of the fourth as Jerusalem started to fade. The Russian team kept hitting buckets and Curtis Jerrells capped a 12-0 run with a layup. It was a game winning streak that put distance between the teams, allowing Unics to win the fourth quarter and the game.

Fischer top scored for Unics with 16 points, while Jerrells and Nikalao Zisis scored 15 each and White claimed 11 points, with Langford on 10 points.

Joseph Jones led the scoring for Hapoel Jerusalem with 12 points, followed by Kitchen and Bracey Wright with 10 apiece.

ASVEL Lyon vs. Strasbourg, 74-65
ASVEL and Strasbourg clashed in this all French game knowing that the loser would drop out of the Euroleague Qualifying tournament and out of elite continental competition this year. With the stakes as high as they can be, it was a close game, but Lyon managed to keep their compatriots at arm’s length through the four quarters.

A close first quarter saw the team go bucket for bucket during the opening minutes, stopping at 7-7. The opening frame was full of downtown hits, with Louis Campbell, Jeremy Leloup, and Tadija Dragicevic hitting from beyond the arc for Strasbourg, while David Lighty (2) and Travis Bader did the same for Lyon. ASVEL had the better of the quarter and at the first split led 19-15.

The second quarter was even tighter as the teams kept streaming from downtown, but ASVEL continued to stay out in front despite the consistent scoring of Strasbourg. Campbell, Traore, Leloup and Howard all scored to keep Strasbourg close, but Taurean Green hit a triple to hand ASVEL a 37-32 lead at the midway buzzer.

Antoine Diot capped a 0-10 Strasbourg run at the start of the third with a hit from behind the semi-circle, but the run was snapped by David Andersen. Strasbourg was having the better of the game now though, and Dragicevic hit from downtown to extend the lead to 41-49. Bader was pivotal in the Lyon come back as he hit two consecutive triples during a 11-0 run that handed his team a 52-49 lead at the last break.

Strasbourg stole back the lead at the start of the fourth stanza, but it would be fleeting as Amara Sy scored for Lyon to re-take the advantage. From there ASVEL never looked back as they controlled the final frame to win it 22-16 and celebrate a big victory over their French rivals.

Green was a driving force for ASVEL with a double-double of 15 points and 12 boards, while Lighty took 13 points, Ahmad Nivins scored 12, Followed by Bader and Andersen with 10 each.

Ali Traore paced Strasbourgh with 14 points and Matt Howard took a 10 points/10 rebounds double-double.

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