|French national team player Charles Kahudi was pivotal throughout the season for ASVEL|
Despite trailing Strasbourg 2-0 after the first two games of the series, ASVEL managed to tie the finals at 2-2 and on Thursday they snatched an 80-77 triumph in Game 5 in Strasbourg to complete their epic comeback and win the 18th league title in the history of the club but only their third since the turn of the century.
ASVEL dealt the most devastating blow of the finals in the third quarter of the Thursday game as they came back from the locker rooms guns blazing and expanded a slim six-point half-time lead to a 69-49 gap early in the fourth quarter.
Strasbourg threw everything at the visitors in the final frame and Rodrigue Beaubois with back-to-back jumpers reduced the deficit to just one point, 75-74, with 1:15 remaining to play. Casper Ware though, who was named MVP of the Finals, sunk two free-throws to give ASVEL some breathing space and the visitors held on in the dying seconds to celebrate the huge victory.
Ware led all scorers with 27 points on 9-for-16 shooting while captain Charles Kahudi came up with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds and David Light also added 11 points. For Strasbourg, Beaubois finished with 23 points and Mardy Collins had 21 in losing efforts.
"We made history. Never before in French basketball a team came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the finals. This is an incredible team. It went through a lot of ups and downs but I always believed in it because we have players with character, I am so happy for them," the four-time NBA champion and FIBA EuroBasket 2013 winner said to AFP.
"This is why I invested in French basketball, to live moments like this, the human adventure with the players, the staff, all employees. What makes me most proud and happy is to see them happy. I had the chance to win NBA titles, to be EuroBasket champion and a title as president is an entirely different feeling."
In the process of experiencing this great moment ASVEL handed Vincent Collet, the coach of Strasbourg and of the French national team, his fourth loss at a Pro A finals and Parker spared a thought for the tactician with whom he has tasted so much success at international level.
|Tony Parker got one over national team coach Vincent Collet on Tuesday night|
"For sure I feel sorry for him, but sport is cruel," Parker said of Collet. "I have also lived very hard times, either with the Spurs against Miami or with France, notably against Spain in the semi-finals of EuroBasket 2015. This is what sport is like and I know it although in my career I have been fortunate enough to have been on the winning side more often than not."
Strasbourg, who had taken second place in the regular season and held the homecourt advantage in the series, had prevailed 80-73 in the opening game and then won 73-61 in Game 2, also on their home court.
ASVEL, who had finished in sixth spot in the Pro A regular season, commenced their big comeback with a convincing 90-69 win in Game 3 at home, behind 20 points from David Lighty and 19 points from Ware. Then in Game 4, also in Villeurbanne, David Andersen collected 14 points and seven rebounds while Charles Kahudi added 12 points and nine boards to propel the hosts to a hard-earned 60-59 win that levelled the series at 2-2.
"This feels so good, what a victory," Kahudi told AFP moments after the big victory that sealed the title on Thursday. "There are many people who did not see us getting here. After Le Havre (a 79-66 defeat with four games left in the regular season) everyone thought we were finished, but we proved them wrong. I came to ASVEL to win this title. I have won other trophies in my career but this one is the best."