| It took a 15-point second-half comeback, but Benetton Bwin survived its home opener in Group F by outlasting Chorale Roanne 67-61 on Tuesday in Treviso, Italy. The hosts trailed 22-37 at halftime, but followed their two players born in the 1990s to victory. Alessandro Gentile and Donatas Motiejunas scored 19 of their 22 points combined in the final 13 minutes as Benetton completed its comeback and pulled away for the win. Ryan Toolson led the winners with 14 points, while Gentile and Motiejunas scored 11 each. Roanne got 13 points each from Uchenna Nsonwu and Pape Phillipe Amagou, while the former added 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Nsonwu's three-point play got Roanne started on the right foot, but soon Toolson had Benetton ahead 8-7 with a triple. A 0-7 run in which Luka Bogdanovic and Souleyman Diabate had layups showed the guests were serious, and they stayed that way by posting the first double-digit lead, 10-20, on 4 consecutive points by Jean-Michel Mipoka. The lead held at 10 points, 13-23, as Alex Gordon capped a great first quarter for the guests with a triple on the buzzer. When Alexis Tanghe opened the second with the same shot for Roanne, the hosts seemed in trouble, but veteran Massimo Bulleri matched it and Sandro Nicevic scored in close to make it 18-26. The scoring got scarce then, however, with Benetton able to trim the difference a little more, to 22-29 on Hrvoje Peric's basket. The Roanne reaction was swift, Amagou and Bogdanovic burying back-to-back shots from the arc to boost the lead to its highest yet, 22-35. Just one more shot fell before halftime, a layup by Amagou, good for an impressive 22-37 Roanne advantage at the break.
Toolson's three-pointer right after halftime signalled Benetton's intentions to come back, and after his free throws and a triple by Devin Smith, the difference was down to single digits, 30-39. That duo and Greg Brunner kept pumping in shots and their defense denying Roanne anything until they got within 38-41. Roanne reacted with Kelvin Rivers and Alex Gordon making it 38-45, but Benetton resumed its scoring to get within 44-47 on a free throw by Motiejunas. A final basket by Rivers let Roanne escape the third quarter with a 44-49 advantage, but it was now a whole new ballgame. Gentile's second three-pointer kept Benetton close until he was able to put back an offensive rebound and complete the comeback, 53-53, with 5 minutes to play. A three-point play by Motiejunas gave Benetton the lead back, then he and Gentile boosted it to 61-56 with 2 minutes left. Bulleri's next shot, a triple, made it 64-56, but Nsonwu and Diabate answered with layups at 64-60 going into the final minute. Only single free throws fell before Nicevic ended things with a dunk to celebrate a comeback victory for the hosts.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010