Tau Ceramica forged a tie for second place in Group A by thrashing Virtus VidiVici 69-85 on the road in Bologna, Italy on Thursday. Tau improved to 6-3, a record to match that of Montepaschi Siena, both of them two victories behind Group A leader CSKA Moscow. Meanwhile, Bolonga dropped to 2-7 and saw its chances to advance to the Top 16 diminished. Tiago Splitter led the winners with 25 points on 10-for-14 two-pointers, 5-for-5 free throws, 12 rebounds and 6 steals. Mirza Teletovic and Zoran Planinic each added 18 points for Tau. Donnie McGrath led Bologna with 18 points. Alan Anderson added 14, Roberto Chiacig had 11 while Guilherme Giovannoni got 10 for the hosts, whose former top scorer Delonte Holland was released earlier this week. Dewarick Spencer was a surprise scratch from Bologna's lineup as he did not dress due to a sprained ankle. Splitter and Simas Jasaitis fueled a 0-7 opening run for Tau, allowing the guests to control the game in the early going. Teletovic and an outstanding Planinic helped Tau to keep a 17-26 lead after 10 minutes. A 7-0 run that Roberto Chiacig capped with a close basket got Virtus within 30-35, but Teletovic, Will McDonald and Planinic stepped up to keep Tau ahead, 34-43, at halftime. Splitter paced Tau after the break, leading the guests to a 55-67 margin after 30 minutes. Virtus needed a quick comeback but kept struggling to score. Meanwhile, Prigioni and an unstoppable Splitter allowed Tau to leave the court with an important road win.
Bologna took the floor with neither of its top scorers, Holland and Spencer, and Tau immediately exploited that advantage with a 0-7 opening run inspired by Splitter. A triple by McGrath got Bologna going and a jumper by Chiacig made it 7-10 after 3 minutes. Tau kept feeding Splitter, and he kept showing baseline moves to score layups that gave him 11 points already as the lead stretched to 10-19. A pair of free throws by Planinic and a three-pointer by Teletovic doubled Bologna on the scoreboard, 12-24, after 7 minutes. McGrath landed another bomb and Bologna head coach Stefano Pillastrini went with a taller lineup, playing Giovannoni at small forward, as Tau started struggling, but only until Teletovic's turnaround jumper and set a 17-26 score after 10 minutes.
Alan Anderson posted 4 straight points to open the second quarter, but Will McDonald picked up where Splitter left off, converting consecutive possessions to make it 21-32. Tau's highest lead was matched on 23-35 when Teletovic hit another shot from beyond the arc. Bologna, however, now made straight defensive stops that Di Bella and Chiacig converted into a 0-7 run to come within 30-35. Tau hit back by feeding McDonald for a post-up dunk and a jumper in a 0-8 run that Teletovic capped with a dunk at 30-43. Chiacig baseline move revived Bologna after a timeout, then Anderson hit a put-back that made it 34-42 at the intermission.
To start the third quarter, Splitter and Simas Jasaitis pushed Tau's lead to its maximum thusfar, 34-48, with a 0-5 run. McGrath scored back-to-back triples to pull Bologna to within 11 again, at 40-51, and Anderson's basket-with-free throw made it even closer, 45-53. Tau didn't lose the momentum, however, but rather reacted with a strong 0-7 run in which Teletovic buried a three-pointer, Jasaitis drove to the basket and Splitter added free throws. Down by 15 now, 45-60, Bologna got consecutive buckets from Andrea Crosariol following a timeout, but Splitter soon responded and Tau restored a 15-point lead at 49-64. Luca Garri's first three-pointer of the night produced a little spark for the hosts, helping Bologna trim the gap when Anderson hit another drive-plus-free throw to make it a 55-67 after three quarters.
Pablo Prigioni's three-pointer pushed Tau up by 13 again, 57-70, to start the final quarter. Garri missed a couple of good opportunities on offense that Splitter could exploit at the other end with layups to make it 59-74. The hosts, however, didn't give up the game. Bologna veterans Di Bella and Giovannoni invited the crowd to participate the game with a three-pointer and a layup that set up a 10-point difference, 64-74, with 4 minutes to play. Planinic, however, had other plans and his 6 consecutive points, the last couple on a stunning spin move, definitely secured the outcome for the visitors. Spliiter's next free throws and Teletovic's triple down the stretch only helped Tau to enlarge the gap and enjoy a fully dominant 40-minute road win in Bologna.
Thursday, December 20, 2007