EUROCHALLENGE FINAL FOUR
TURNING POINT: Triumph took the lead for the second and last time in the game midway through the first quarter, 13-12. A three-point play by Malcolm Delaney and a trey by Blake Schilb on the next possession gave Chalon a five-point gap, and although the Russians came within one point just moments later, the French would not give up the lead again until the end.
GAME HEROES: Chalon's Blake Schilb scored 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting (including 5-of-5 from behind the arc) but a special mention has to go to all Triumph players. They were down by 16 at halftime but they came back from the locker rooms determined to fight back. They didn't succeed, but they gave it their all and they made for a very interesting second half.
STATS DON'T LIE: When Schilb came off the floor for the first time, less than 14 minutes into the game, he had scored 14 of Chalon's 27 points at that point, on 100% shooting (3-of-3 two-point shots, 2-of-2 three-point shots and 2-of-2 free throws). It made a strong statement that Chalon would do anything within their power to play in Sunday's final.
|Blake Schilb scored 29 and Abdul Aminu (pictured) registered a double-double in points and rebounds for Elan Chalon|
Elan Chalon produced an emphatic performance to defeat Triumph Lyubertsy and book a showdown with Besiktas Milangaz in the final of Eurochallenge 2012.
Blake Schilb's inspired display - and an energetic offensive strategy - helped propel the French club into the second European final in their history.
And they will feel confident of consigning their 2001 Saporta Cup disappointment to ancient history following the manner in which they took their Russian rivals apart, bullying them into submission in the first half before resisting a late rally.
After Chalon built an 18-13 cushion after the opening quarter, a 9-0 run accelerated their hopes and when Adbul Amini twice converted in succession from close range, late in the second period, his team's advantage grew to 16.
"The first quarter we got a good rhythm, good defence," said Chalon coach Greg Beugnot.
"And I'm sure it's because we played on Tuesday in the French Cup semi-final."
Schilb was in irresistible mood. Off balance, the American hit a buzzer-beating three that kept the margin elevated at 49-33 at half-time.
And although Triumph salvaged some pride after the break, too much rested on the shoulders of Davon Jefferson and Ty McKee.
They could not accomplish miracles alone. "They controlled the tempo all game," acknowledged Jefferson, who had a team-high 26 points for the Muscovites.
Not quite all.
64-52 headed in front into the fourth quarter, Chalon gave up seven successive points as their foul count rose.
Jefferson kept up his individual crusade. He made 1/2 from the line to cut the gap to 70-65 with 3:57 left.
Tensions rose. Michel Jean-Baptiste-Adolphe and Malcolm Delaney fouled out. Nerves were growing.
As opportunity knocked, Triumph went silent. Steed Tchicamboud hit all 7 of his points in a closing 12-2 burst that took Chalon out of sight.
"The third quarter we gave away too many free throws, we committed too many fouls," Beugnot declared.
"But the last five minutes, we kept our defensive rhythm and it is good for our confidence that we pulled it out."
Triumph now prepare for a third-place play-off with Szolnoki Olaj with coach Vasiliy Karasev looking for his rising stars to restore their reputations after a disappointing performance.
"We have a lot of young players on our team," he said. "There was so much pressure on them. And it was just impossible."
Aminu added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Chalon.