|Lamayn Wilson, seen here playing for Krasnye Krylia, had 17 points ont he weekend for Cholet|
EuroChallenge participants Cholet Basket looked bound to suffer a third consecutive loss in the French Pro A on the weekend, but came up with a huge fourth quarter to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Cholet struggled on both ends of the floor at the beginning of the second half and were trailing Pau-Lacq-Orthez by 12 points, 69-57, going into the final frame of their encounter at La Meilleraie, Cholet's home-court arena.
Coach Jean-Manuel Sousa's troops however switched to an aggressive zone press defence in the clutch, managed to force turnovers or bad shots from Orthez and they scored 34 points in the final 10 minutes to turn the game around and clinch a 94-87 win.
Winger Rudy Jomby scored consecutive baskets to reduce the gap to single digits early in the fourth and Cholet's latest addition to the roster, veteran guard Eric Chatfield, sunk two free throws to give his team their first lead in almost 20 minutes, 77-76 with less than four minutes left to play.
Cholet managed to keep the screws tight on defence and kept their calm from the foul line to hold on to the lead until the final buzzer.
Combo guard John Cox, who sat out last Tuesday's EuroChallenge clash with ZZ Leiden due to a minor injury, returned to the line-up against Orthez and scored four of his nine points in the final three minutes to help Cholet secure the win.
Just like he had done in the victory against Leiden, Jomby paved the way for Cholet with 19 points, six rebounds and two assists, Lamayn Wilson had 17 points and six boards and point guard Terrell Stoglin finished with 16 points and five assists.
Sousa had warned his players that Orthez were arriving as Pro A's best offensive side, averaging 81.7 points-per-game prior to the Saturday clash, and he was not entirely happy that the win had to come in extremes.
"Our defence was very poor at the beginning," the Cholet coach said.
"We could not protect the paint, we allowed them to pass and score from inside."
Cholet however received praise for their resilience by former former French international Didier Gadou, who is now the general manager of Orthez.
"Once Cholet established their zone defence, they rendered us unable to attack them, and at the same time we were unable to get any stops on defence," he said.
Cholet had started the Pro A season with four wins in a row but then lost two consecutive games, to reigning champions Nanterre and Orleans.
Thanks to Saturday's success they have improved to 5-2 in the standings, the same as the other French EuroChallenge participant, JDA Dijon.
Dijon did not have to try as hard to secure their fifth victory on Saturday, as they enjoyed a 77-57 rout of Antibes at home, behind a 25-point, five-rebound display by Mykal Riley and 16 points from Anthony Dobbins.
KOTKA'S WINNING MARATHON ENDS
|Sharaud Curry and Team TEHO Sport Kotka had their five-game winning streak halted on the weekend|
Team TEHO Sport Kotka came very close to completing in an ideal way the most hectic period of their season schedule, that comprised of six games within 13 days, but their five-game winning streak snapped on Saturday.
The Finnish side had won four games in a row in the Korisliiga and their EuroChallenge opener against Reggio Emilia last Tuesday, but eventually fatigue took its toll on them.
On Friday, Kotka came up with a fantastic second-half display to defeat Honka 81-65 at home, on the back of a 22-point, nine-rebound display from Jukka Matinen.
Less than 24 hours later however, they found themselves trailing Namika Lahti almost right from tip-off and could never quite catch up, and eventually suffered their first loss since October, 88-75, despite an 18-point effort from Joonas Lehtoranta.
Kotka now stand at 10-4 in the Korisliiga standings, while fellow EuroChallenge side Kataja Basket improved to 8-3 at the weekend.
Kataja pulled away from Lapuan Korikobrat in the second quarter, as they outscored their guests 29-6 in that period, and registered a stress-free 99-67 win at home.
Coach Jukka Toijala gave playing time to all 10 players on his squad and saw Petri Virtanen going five-for-nine from behind the arc to pick up a game-high 17 points, while Mike Morrison collected a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.
EUROCHALLENGE TEAMS IN NATIONAL/REGIONAL LEAGUES AT THE WEEKEND
ABA Adriatic League:
Szolnoki Olaj lost 72-58 at Igokea Aleksandrovac on Saturday, despite Chris Oliver finishing with 15 points seven rebounds and three assists and Peter Lorant adding 14 points and eight boards.
Krka Novo Mesto lost 77-66 at home to Cibona Zagreb, with Jaka Klobucar picking up 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists in defeat.
Belgian Ethias League:
Port of Antwerp Giants clinched a 69-59 win away at Belfius Mons-Hainaut, behind 19 points from Frank Turner and 13 points each from Barry Stewart and Maxime De Zeeuw, who also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Okapi Aalstar on the other hand suffered a 99-68 defeat on the road to Telent Oostende, despite 22 points from Derek Raivio and a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds by Ioanna Tofi.
GasTerra Flames Groningen were the big winners of the EuroChallenge derby with SPM Shoeters Den Bosch, as they pulled away in the third quarter to claim a 75-51 triumph on the road.
Jeff Robinson paced the winners with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds and Arvin Slagter chipped in with 17 points. For Den Bosch, Marcel Aarts had 12 points and five rebounds in a losing effort.
ZZ Leiden meanwhile cruised to a 76-64 win over Amsterdam at home, as Michael Schachtner had 19 points and Worthy De Jong added 16.
Estonian Alexela KML:
Rakvere Tarvas picked up a comfortable 109-64 win away at Tin Kalev as Kristo Saage, with 20 points, led six Tarvas players who scored in double digits.
Tartu Rock also cruised to victory on the road, as they shut down Valga 87-60, behind a 13-point, eight-rebound display by Timo Eichfuss.
Italian Serie A:
Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia picked up their third win in six games in the domestic league with a 67-56 success over Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia at home, behind 12 points and nine rebounds from James White.
BC Mures were the only of the three Romanian representatives in the EuroChallenge to play on the road at the weekend, but were also the only ones to claim a win.
They cruised to a 109-65 triumph at CS BC Farul Constanta as Alexandar Mladenovic finished with a game-high 22 points and Denham Brown had 14 points and 4 rebounds.
CSM Oradea fell 99-91 to CSU Asesoft Ploiesti at home after a disastrous fourth quarter, despite 21 points from Daniel Dillon 21 and a 15-point, 8-rebound contribution by Sean Denison.
Gaz Metan Medias meanwhile lost 73-70 to CSU Atlassib Sibiu, also at home. Rares Mandache finished with 21 points, Radomir Marojevic had 13 and Kyle Shiloh collected 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a losing effort.
Södertälje Kings enjoyed a 102-75 rout of Sundsvall Dragons at home, as Toni Bizaca and Martin Pahlmblad combined for 42 points and Assane Sene picked up a double-double of 13 points and 15 boards.
Turkish BEKO Ligi:
Royal Hali Gaziantep fell 89-77 away at Torku Konya Selçuk, despite the efforts of Dejan Borovnjak who finished with 17 points and four boards and Stanley Burell, who had 14 points and five rebounds.
Tofas Bursa also lost on the road, 86-67 at Pinar Karsiyaka, with Marcus Denmon and Evren Büker their only players to score in double digits as they had 20 and 15 points, respectively.
VTB United League:
On Sunday, Tsmoki Minsk secured an 82-68 victory over Astana at home, on the back of an 18-point, eight-rebound showing from Pavel Ulyanko and 14 points from Branko Mirkovic, who also had five assists.
Krasnye Krylia travelled to Riga to take on VEF and lost 80-77, although Julian Wright collected a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds and Anton Ponkrashov added 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Triumph Lyubersty were not in action in the VTB League over the weekend.