ASVEL surge past Galatasaray to dominate Finals opener
LYON (France) - LDLC ASVEL Feminin stand on the verge of a maiden EuroCup Women title after producing a jaw-dropping 95-56 success in the first leg of the Finals against Galatasaray Cagdas Factoring.
While many had anticipated a close game against two high-flying teams, it was a devastating show by the home team who will take that huge 39-point advantage into the return game in Istanbul next week.
Turning point: There wasn't one since the home team were locked in right from the start and blew Galatasaray away with some breathtaking basketball. A stunning combination of strong defense, transition, athleticism, aggressive attacking of the lane and an array of big shots saw ASVEL build a double-digit lead. They never relented and stormed away from their opponents in an epic first half when they racked up 50 points.
Game heroes: It was a sparkling team performance from ASVEL, with Marine Johannes posting another super display after accumulating 25 points - including 18 in the first half. The guard dropped five triples and also handed out 4 assists. Meanwhile, Gabby Williams set the tone with an array of positive slashes to the hoop early and eventually accrued 20 points, plus 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Stats don't lie: ASVEL shot 68 percent in the first half when they torched what little defense there was from the visitors. That told the story, while the French side continued their reputation as sharpshooters from long range with a fine 13 triples.
Bottom line: This was a simply brilliant display from ASVEL who stuffed the highlights reel with their offensive flare, but it should not be overlooked that their defense was also top class and credit is due to head coach David Gautier. Superb at both ends of the floor, the game plan to stifle Galatasaray and to raise the tempo to maximum worked so well. The decision to introduce teenage star Juste Jocyte early in the game epitomized the confidence that was flowing for ASVEL and the better options they had.
In contrast, Galatasaray simply had no answer to the superior athleticism, ball movement, transition and quickness of their opponents. They were brutally exposed in the first half defensively and didn't help themselves by constantly jacking up some tough looking three-point shots when they were getting most joy by getting the ball inside - although much of that was due to the home defense.
Whilst it is never over until it is over, the second leg looks realistically to be only about pride, with their prospects of a third title hanging by the finest of threads.