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Olimpia came from behind and won a thriller 73-72 over Asvel Villeurbanne


Olimpia grabbed the fifth win to start the EuroLeague season in a 73-72 thriller over Asvel Villeurbanne. Plagued by a slow start, Olimpia went 1-for-9 from three in the first half, scored just 26 points and gradually became unable to contain the dominating scoring display of Chris Jones and Elie Okobo. But the second half told a different story. After going behind by 16 early in the third, Olimpia mounted a furious comeback, had a 14-2 run, and tied the game at the buzzer with an incredible three made by Nicolò Melli (14 points and six rebounds, 10 points were accumulated in the second half). The fourth quarter was a blow-by-blow battle. Olimpia took momentarily a three-point unexpected lead when Pippo Ricci made a huge three from the corner on his way to a 10-point off the bench crucial game. Then, Okobo – with a game-high 25 points – scored 10 in a row for his team. Olimpia was able to stay close, with another Ricci’s three, a Shields’ three, a Shields’ three-point play, even Charles Kahudi exploded with two more threes. In the closing seconds, Shields from the line earned a one-point lead, Okobo with a downtown three put Asvel up by two. Here Olimpia grabbed a huge rebound with Kyle Hines (seven points, eight boards, another masterpiece) and fed Devon Hall for the winning three. Hall after scoring in double figure for four straight games, had a difficult night, he gave everything but couldn’t score, going 0-for-5 from the field, right before making the big shot. Asvel had one last possession, but Olimpia’s defense, capable to hold them to 32 second-half points, came up big again. “We started the game with little energy, our defense was flat, our offense was slow, too many dribbles, we deserved to be down by 14, but the team didn’t deserve to play such a bad game. The way we were playing against a very good Asvel team, I thought the game was lost. We committed to play a better second half, we did, and that made me, I wouldn’t say satisfied but this is what I was looking for. Then not only the players played a better half, but they managed to win the game,” Coach Ettore Messina said. “Our first half was probably the worst we’ve had so far this season – Nicolò Melli said -. We looked at each other in the locker room at halftime and said this cannot also happen in the second half. We have to play better, and we might lose, but we go out there and put our effort out there. We did it, we came back, we won a crazy game, and we are very happy.” Shavon Shields led the team in scoring with 15, but he also had five rebounds and five assists.