Bert attended the excellent Division II game CEP Fleurus vs. Gent Hawks on Dec. 19th, 2014

CEP Fleurus had a slow start... Maybe too slow to be able to win a high level basketball game like the one enjoyed by enthusiastic basketball fans who showed up at the Salle Andre Robert in Fleurus on Friday, Dec. 19th, 2014. Turnovers, bad passes or wrong choices accumulated for the hosts early in the first quarter. Power forward Gregory De Pooter and elegant player Joao-Pedro De Decker for the visitors capitalized on the situation. The scoreboard evolved clearly in favour of the Hawks. When the scoreboard showed 5-18 in the first quarter, referees had already taken some strange decisions which mainly perturbed the Gentenaars. Mad about such decisions, Gregory De Pooter first and Wim Dobbelaere right afterwards kicked some chairs placed along the sideline and showed some signs of frustration. The Hawks' Head Coach Wim Meiresonne asked his players to stay calm and not to overreact after referees' decisions. CEP Fleurus needed some time to really get into the game and, thanks to a tougher defense, was able to come back in the race by the end of the first period (14-22). Experienced player and ex-Hawk Sebastien Bellin looked pretty inspired as he came off the bench and truly put the CEPmen into orbit by hitting two superb three-pointers in a row and grabbing important rebounds. His mates Arne Steinbach and Christian Ilongo in offense as well as Lars Maesfrancx at rebounding followed the tempo in the second quarter. CEP Fleurus even took the lead at 35-33. Coach Jean-Marie Barbier looked satisfied about the nice come-back of the home squad and could also count on his young talented players Thomas Mertens and Max Mureddu who offered him reliable rotations. The Gentenaars managed to stay only 2 points behind at half-way (39-37) and the whole attendance could feel that the Hawks had definitely not said their last word.
The beginning of the third quarter was nonetheless largely in favour of the CEPmen, led by their Captain Christian Ilongo. The scoreboard showed 45-37 when the CEP key player Kevin Jonniaux got injured (knee). He had not been too well since the beginning of the game but his loss affected the local team's game for sure afterwards. The plays gained in intensity and the cheerful little crowd kept supporting their favourite team anyway. If some staff members of each club had not intervened on the court to stop their players do something wrong when the scoreboard showed 47-46, supporters would have then witnessed the start of a brawl which could have involved some nervous big men right in front of the officials' table. Two staff members, one on each side, were excluded by the referees who looked unable to control the game again. All fans and observers could feel the tension and the excitement was at its climax in the small gym. After a few minutes of patience, the game resumed and the Hawks with a fantastic Laurent Lhote at playmaking took the lead again: 47-51. CEP shooter Kevin Jonniaux was back on the court despite his injury but was not very proactive. Nevertheless, his CEP mates managed to have a nice rush and young guard Max Mureddu nailed a beautiful three-pointer on the buzzer at the end of the third quarter. He tied the game anew: 52-52.
The last quarter was really thrilling and entertaining too. The game actually remained wide open until the scoreboard displayed 64-65. A crucial three-point shot was hit by Wim Dobbelaere on an assist by Gillis Mestdag who had obviously committed a traveling violation but the referees remained silent! The CEP bench vehemently expressed unhappiness about the referees' lack of decision and was eventually called a technical foul. Last vain efforts by Estime Vangu did not help much on the CEP side (although it was still 70-73 with only 47'' left on the clock) and Laurent Lhote kept being almost flawless for the Hawks (hitting 8/9 from the free-throw line). Greg De Pooter, Gillis Mestdag and Hans Van Langenhove also finished the work either from the line or from long range for the visitors: 71-81 as final score. The well-balanced Hawks' team proved again that it deserves the great results recorded so far this season and the CEPmen showed that they are able to really challenge high-ranking opponents when they play right. A perfect evening with lots of mixed feelings for basketball lovers!
Free highlights made available on the Telesambre website:
Score evolution: 14-22, 39-37, 52-52 and 71-81.
Best scorers:
CEPF: K. Jonniaux 2, C. Ilongo 18, T. Mertens 6, S. Bellin 12, E. Vangu 17, A. Steinbach 10, L. Maesfrancx 3, M. Mureddu 3.
Hawks: W. Dobbelaere 16, R. Spaens 8, G. De Pooter 13, G. Mestdag 8, J.-P. De Decker 16, L. Lhote 17, H. Van Langenhove 3.
(Pictures: Het Nieuwsblad -- Eric Noens and News)

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