ASVEL Upsets Valencia in Eurocup Opener
Tony Parker is getting comfortable in Lyon.
On a day when the NBA labor dispute took yet another step in the wrong direction, the erstwhile San Antonio Spur torched two-time cup winner Valencia for 34 points, leading ASVEL to a surprise 87-78 Eurocup victory before yet another, lockout-driven sellout crowd.
Parker, who had been averaging less than 30 minutes per game, hardly left the Astroballe floor last night. He was, in fact, everything ASVEL had hoped for when its minority owner agreed to wear ASVEL green for the duration of the NBA work stoppage: shooting over 50% from the floor — including a gaudy 75% from behind the arc — and sinking 9 of 10 free throws, he also found the open man whenever the frustrated Spanish team tried to take away the lane. Despite handling the ball on nearly every possession, he committed just one turnover.
Simply put, it was a point guard clinic. As French national team member and Valencia star Nando De Colo said after the match, "Tony knew what to do."
Ronny Turiaf, ASVEL's second NBA refugee, also played his best game to date for ASVEL, coming off the bench for 12 points and five rebounds. Turiaf clearly outperformed former Connecticut star and ASVEL starting center Hilton Armstrong, who struggled against Valencia's talented trio of burly seven-footers and finished with just two points and four rebounds in 15 minutes.
Both teams struggled in the opening frame: while Valencia's big men dominated Armstrong inside, they were unable to finish on consecutive possessions and ASVEL led 20-15 at the end of the quarter.
Parker carved up the lane repeatedly in the second period and the ASVEL lead swelled to 15, but an eight-point Valencia run to finish the half brought the advantage down to 34-27.Continued on the next page