Although missing its leader and catalyst, point guard Tyus Edney, Benetton Treviso stayed among the top teams in Group A with a big 75-78 road victory over Alba in Berlin on Thursday. The victory raised the italian team to a record of 2-1, while Alba stays winless at 0-3. In a tough and close game, dictated by defense, the better shooting from outside and cool nerves at crunch time made the difference for Benetton, which was lead by Jorge Garbajosa with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Trajan Langdon added 15 points for the victors, Denis Marconato 11 and Massimo Bulleri 10. Riccardo Pittis delivered 8 assists. For Alba, the best scorers were Marko Pesic with 21 points, Jovo Stanojevic with 16 and DeJuan Collins with 11.
With Edney not even in Berlin, the main force in the early going was Riccardo Pittis for Benetton. He controlled the show while Langdon and Marcelo Nicola each splashed down his first three-point attempt of the night as the visitors seized a quick 6-10 lead. A basket scored by Henrik Rodl to make it 9-10 were a milestone for the veteran forward, putting him over 5,000 points in his career with the Berliners, which began in 1993. Alba proceeded to fight back with Marko Pesic both getting to the hoop and hitting his shots to reclaim the lead at 15-13. But Alba's bad free throws and another three by Langdon gave Bennetton a 2-9 run at the finish and the visitors reached the end of 10 minutes ahead on the board, 17-22.
With Kevin Rankin scoring the first 2 baskets of the second quarter, Alba suddenly looked better under the basket, and with Mithat Demirel taking over at point guard for DeJuan Collins became more effective in offense. Still, Benetton had the big shooters, with Bulleri and Langdon dropping them, and Pittis as the mastermind behind the offense as the lead held at 28-32. Both teams settled down to defense, forcing a lot of mistakes as the score crawled point-by-point. Alba finally started to score inside with Stanojevic and Lollis, brining the Berliners within 35-37. Pesic did the honors of putting them in the lead with a pair of free throws and a three-pointer on the last break of the half, after which the home team had a 40-37 lead. By that point, Pesic had 13 points and Collins 9, the same as Langdon of Benetton, all his on three-pointers.
There were no points, only fouls and turnovers, to start the second half until Collins and Marconato finally but both broke the ice, but each left shortly afterwards go out with their fourth fouls with Alba still ahead 44-41. Garbajosa came up strong for Benetton now with 6 points in a row (48-47). Alba couldn't score, but as that is rarely a problem for Benetton, the visitors took the lead at 48-51 on baskets by Langdon and Stojic. Garbajosa and Pesic traded baskets until they, too, committed fourth fouls and had to sit down. All the main scorers were in foul trouble, so Massimo Bulleri kept up the pace for Benetton with 4 points, though Nino Garris answered for Alba. Stojic finished the quarter with 2 free throws, good for a six-point Benetton lead, 53-59, heading into the final 10 minutes.
At the beginning the final quarter, the game went inside, where Jovo Stanojevic boosted Alba with 8 points in a row, but the hosts still trailed 62-65. What awakens the 500 crowd even more are 5 points by Garris, which give Alba the lead back, at 67-66. But Garbajosa, back on court, deflated the entire Max Schmeling Halle a little with a cool triple that returned the lead to Benetton, 67-69, with 3 minutes to go. In a thrilling finish there was no place for easy baskets. Two free throws by Langdon brings Benetton ahead 67-71, but Pesic makes 3 of 4 from the line to cut it to 70-71. During the last 24 seconds, Alba chose to foul, and both Marconato and Bulleri stayed cool at the foul line to make it 72-78, before a three-pointer by Demirel at the buzzer landed like an anti-climax for the home crowd.
Thursday, October 24, 2002