It had to suffer until the very last play, but Real Madrid finally win its Top 16 home opener against Scavolini Pesaro 75-71 on Thursday night in Group E. Madrid had double-digit leads during the last quarter, but a series of turnovers allowed Scavolini to pull within 2 points until Scoonie Penn missed a decisive shot, and Antonis Fotsis saved the victory from the foul line. Real Madrid starts Group E with a 1-0 record, the same as CSKA Moscow, who defeated Barcelona on the road. Scavolini is 0-1 despite having led early in the game behind inspired scorer Charles Smith. Felipe Reyes was the best man for the winners with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Mickael Gelabale and Fotsis posted 12 apiece. All the players of Madrid who stepped on court scored at least 3 points. For Scavolini, Smith led the way in offense with 25 points, 21 of them in the first half, and Tomas Ress added 10.
Axel Hervelle opened fire and Reyes added a turnaround jumper for a 4-0 start in Madrid's favor. Robert Archibald scored Scavolini's first basket on a fastbreak, but defenses took over then for several turns until Hervelle fed Reyes again. While Madrid looked for its big men in every offensive play, Scoonie Penn blasted the first triple of the night for the guests. While Madrid missed its first 5 three-point attempts, Smith got open three times on the arc. Boom. Boom. Boom. All of his triples fell to launch Scavolini to a 6-14 advantage. Pat Burke broke the spell for the hosts but the Scavolini run stretched to 2-14 as Marko Milic sealed a break to double the hosts on the scoreboard, 8-16. Louis Bullock finally scored from downtown for Madrid, and Burke added a basket in the lane, but Smith reached his 11th point from the free throw line to close the first quarter with Scavolini in charge, 14-20.
Smith stayed hot by opening the second quarter with consecutive baskets, but Scavolini's big men picked up too many fouls. Madrid couldn't buy a basket, only free throws by Bullock to stay within 18-25. Moreover, Madrid committed its seventh turnover while Scavolini had only one so far. Fotsis appeared with his first triple for Madrid to make it 21-27, but Ress scored again for the guests. Madrid found new help in Antonio Bueno, whose three-point play brought the hosts within 26-30. Smith was back from the bench to give more points to Scavolini, but Mickael Gelabale brought the house down slamming an offensive board for 28-32. Fotsis finally completed the rally from the foul line, tying 32-32 as Madrid's zone defense succeeded in stopping Scavolini's offense. Gelabale put Madrid ahead, 33-32, and kept it ahead with a triple for 36-35, but Smith finished the half with his fifth shot from the arc to forge a 38-38 tie.
Gelabale was on fire and opened the third quarter with a slam dunk to bring the crowd to its feet. When Reyes added a jumper from the side, Madrid led 42-38. Milic drove the lane to slam and put Scavolini back on track, and later made a fastbreak and extra free throw to tie again, 43-43. Madrid raced again to a 50-45 advantage before a flagrant foul by Mous Sonko helped Scavolinia. Madrid's offense was not very efficient, but its amazing 35-17 rebounding edge supplied plenty extra possesions as the hosts stayed ahead, 52-47. By the time Alberto Herreros joined the scoring with his first triple and Hervelle added a basket, the lead was at double digits. With Smith being held scoreless in the quarter, Madrid soared ahead 62-48 after 30 minutes.
Smith woke up to open the last quarter with a basket, then Ress and Archibald added free throws to make it 64-55. Reyes allowed added points to his rebounds to restore a 66-55 lead, and even though Teemu Rannikko scored his second triple for Scavolini, Madrid still led by double digits with 3:30 to play. Another big dunk by Gelabale came before Milic and Penn pulled the guests within 73-67 with 90 seconds to go. A Madrid turnover was then converted into a dunk by Ress, and new turnover by the hosts into a layup by Smith that made the score 73-71 with 29 seconds to go. Burke missed on the following play and Scavolini had a last chance, but Penn's didn't even go near the rim, allowing Madrid to force a last foul from which Fotsis made insurance free throws to nail down an elusive victory.
Thursday, February 24, 2005