01 September, 2016
30 April, 2017
ASVEL match des champions 2016
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ASVEL claim first silverware of season in France

MOUILLERON-LE-CAPTIF (Basketball Champions League) – ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne emerged victorious on Tuesday night in a clash between two Basketball Champions League participants as they defeated Le Mans 75-71 in the Match des Champions and picked up the first title at play in France.

The Match des Champions is the equivalent of the Supercup in other countries and hence ASVEL, who are the reigning French champions, were facing Le Mans, who lifted the French Cup last year. ASVEL were drawn in Group C of the Basketball Champions League while Le Mans landed in Group B.

“I think the team was very, very good but we still have a lot to work on,” said ASVEL’s president, French legend Tony Parker. “That said, it's good to start the season with a victory and a trophy, and I liked the team’s attitude to get the win. This is the second trophy in two years but we know very well that it will be harder for us this season, because opponents will be expecting us to be strong.”

Following a balanced start, ASVEL pulled away in the second quarter and led by as many as 11 points but Le Mans turned the tables in the third frame and grabbed a six-point lead. But Adrian Uter, a new arrival for ASVEL in the off-season, poured in six points in a row and instigated a surge that was enough to see his team first past the finish line. He finished with 17 points and six assists and was named MVP of the Match des Champions.

"We have a very good group of guys, everyone understands the systems and we have a chemistry that works, even if we were playing without Charles (Kahudi),” said Uter. “We are still in a transitional stage but we are on the right track towards showing our full potential as a team. Here, it's not like in the NBA where you sign five years for a franchise, in Europe you change teams very often and I am very happy to play for ASVEL this year, even though a few months ago I lost against my current team when I was at Monaco in the semifinals of the play-offs.”

Nicolas Lang also made a big contribution for ASVEL as he drilled four of his six three-point attempts and collected 16 points, while Bandja Sy finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. For Le Mans, Olivier Hanlan had a game-high 18 points while Giordan Watson had 17 points in losing efforts.

“It was not a perfect game but we played well during three quarters, the third one was just catastrophic, there was a stretch where we lost five consecutive balls,” said ASVEL head coach JD Jackson. “This was our third game against strong opposition in four days, with the trips and fatigue this entails. I tried to use players who are able to play several positions early in the game because we played almost with an 8-player rotation.”

Le Mans from their side were left lamenting the missed chance after their big third-quarter comeback had looked sufficient to lift them to victory. “We made 14 turnovers and only had ten assists, these are key figures to the game,” said Le Mans head coach Erman Kunter.

“The second important stat is that we shot 58% from the free-throw line and that matters a lot in final. When we grabbed the six-point lead, we threw away three possessions because we forgot our style of play and we lost discipline. Now we turn our focus at the weekend and the start of the championship.”