Despite playing without its signature star for practically the entire game, Lottomatica stayed in the race to reach the Top 16 from Group B after by downing Union Olimpija 84-74 on Wednesday at home in Rome, Italy. Lottomatica improved to 3-6 and ties with Unicaja for the sixth plave in the Group D standings. Meanwhile, Olimpija dropped to 2-7 and eighth place in the group table. Loukas Mavrokefalidis led the winners with 16 points and 10 rebounds. David Hawkins added 15 points, while Luca Garri posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds of the bench. Daniele Cinciarini had 13 points in just his third Euroleague game while Alex Righetti scored 11 points for Roma, who only used superstar Dejan Bodiroga in the final 2 minutes of the game. Marko Milic led Olimpija with a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds. Teemu Rannikko and Ivica Jurkovic each added 14 points for the guests. Roma led 21-11 after 10 minutes and kept a safe margin all the way, and even when a 3-15 run brought Olimpija within 76-60 with 2 minutes to go, Jacopo Giachetti had 8 points in crunch time to seal the outcome.
Righetti's game-opening layup was followed by a Mavrokefalides basket as Roma went up 4-0, although Denim Lorbek soon nailed a three-pointer to open Olimpija's account. Alessandro Tonolli then earned a trip to the line and made both for Roma, only to see Ender Arslan lay one up as Olimpija closed to within 6-5. That's when Roma made an early move, reeling off 7 straight points that began with Hawkins dorpping a triple and Mavrokefalidis downing a pair of layups to make it 13-5. Jurkovic ended Olimpija's drought with a layup, but Roma soon picked up where it had left off as Mire Chatman scored a basket and Hawkins put back an offensive rebound for a double-digit advantage that held up at 21-11 after 10 minutes.
Sandi Cebular started Olimpija's second quarter with free throws, but the hot hand of Hawkins meant 5 unanswered points added to Roma's lead, making it 26-13. Olimpija struggled to get past Roma's defense, although Saulius Kuzminskas made it to the line for 2 free throws. Arslan's three-pointer cut the deficit further, to 28-18, but Cinciarini stretched the difference again to 30-18 with foul shots. After Arslan was fouled and sank both chances at the line, Roma took a timeout, but only after Kuzminskas shot for 2 points underneath did the hosts resume scoring as Garri buried a triple. Olimpija continued to show signs of life and scored the next 4 points to pull within 33-27, but Roma struck back with 6 consecutive points to re-open the gap. Lorbek added a three-pointer for Olimpija, but Garri dunked and Mavrokefalides dropped a triple to make it 44-30. Mavrokefalides struck again from the arc as the lead reached 16 points before Rannikko's free throws for Olimpia left a 47-33 halftime score.
When Hawkins opened the new half scoring from just inside the arc, the Roma lead was back to 16 points. Milic hit free throws to reduce the deficit and Hawkins left with his fourth foul, but Roma just went inside now to Garri, whose hook shot meant a 53-37 difference midway through the third quarter. Roma's defense kept harrassing Olimpija's shooters, although Arslan was able to get to the line for a pair of free throws and Milic got to the basket on a pass from Lorbek. Neither sparked Olimpija to rally, however, as Mavrokefalides added Roma's next 4 points to make it 57-41, forcing Olimpija to take a timeout. An anti-sporting foul on Tonolli allowed Rannikko to go to the stripe and reduce the deficit to 57-43, but Chatman split his own free throws as Roma escaped the third quarter in charge by 58-43.
Roma retained command in the last quarter, even though Milic started it by scoring off an offensive rebound. Hawkins pierced the visitors’ hopes with a three-pointer good for a 61-45 advantage. With Olimpija unable to make any inroads, Righetti laced a nice pass to Garri who dunked for a 64-48 advantage. After a Milic basket, Cinciarini and Righetti buried back-to-back three-pointers to seeminly end all doubt of the outcome. Mavrokefalides picked up his fifth foul and left to a warm ovation before Cinciarini buried another three to make it 73-56. Olimpija did not give up and pulled to within 73-63 as Arslan fed a cutting Rannikko, who dunked over Garri, but Righetti made a corner triple to calm his team. Bodiroga entered the game with 2 minutes remaining while Jurkovic's three-pointer reduced the deficit to just 6 points, 76-70. Giacchetti made 2 free throws heading into the last minute, and when Milic missed both of his, made another pair to boost the Roma lead to 10 again, 80-70. Giacchetti would add consecutive layups to seal the deal and give Roma some hope for a turnaround going into 2007.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006