Air Avellino registered its first-ever Euroleague win by edging Unicaja 72-70 at home in Group A on Wednesday night. Both teams are now tied in the Group A standings, each with a 1-2 record. Avellino rallied in the final five minutes to win the game on a layup by Eric Williams with 1.9 seconds remaining. Chris Warren paced the winners with 24 points and 9 rebounds. Tamar Slay added 13 while Williams had 12 for Avellino. Marcus Haislip had 14 points for Unicaja and Boni Ndong added 13 for the guests, who led 30-38 at halftime. A layup by Robert Archibald seemed to seal the outcome, 58-65, with five minutes remaining. Warren and Drake Diener took over to tie the game at 70-70 with a minute to go and Slay fed Williams for the game-winner. Unicaja had the chance to inbound twice due to an incredible turnover by Williams, who walked away with the ball thinking that the game was over, but the guests did not manage to get a shot up in the game's final second.
Haislip got Unicaja going with a layup, but free throws by Williams and a six-meter jumper by Travis Best gave Avellino a 4-2 edge. Both teams struggled to score in the early going, but Archibald stepped up with a power basket, which Williams matched with a layup in the other end. Unicaja was struggling to score, however, while a layup by Warren kept Avellino ahead, 8-5. Joseph Gomis and Slay traded baskets, but Haislip strick from downtown to tie it at 10-10. Unicaja was now way more aggressive on defense. Meanwhile, Jiri Welsch and Ndong gave the guests their first lead, 12-14. Avellino called timeout, but free throws by Ndong made it a 4-point game. Unicaja did not allow any easy shots now, as Avellino only managed free throws by Warren. Meanwhile, Ndong shined again with a put-back layup and a running jumper by Gomis and free throws by Carlos Jimenez allowed Unicaja to grab a 15-23 edge after 10 minutes.
Avellino could not find the way to basket, but improved its defense early in the second quarter. As such, both teams went scoreless for more than two minutes until Ndong took over with another put-back basket. Vitor Faverani copied him soon after that to force Avellino call a much-needed timeout at 15-27. Avellino found a go-to guy in Slay, who stepped up with consecutive baskets. Warren soon added a dunk coming off the baseline to bring the hosts back to life at 21-27. Haislip silenced the crowd with an outstanding dunk, which Marko Tusek bettered with a three-pointer. Warren soon added free throws to get Avellino even closer, 26-29. Archibald took over with a jump hook and Carlos Cabezas added his trademark turnaround jumper to give Unicaja some fresh air at 27-33. Unicaja was now its usual self on defense while Haislip shined with an acrobatic jumper - and the free throw that came with in. A put-back dunk by Faverani and an off-balance jumper by Daniele Cinciarini fixed the halftime score at 30-38.
Tusek tried to get the crowd involved with a layup and Drake Diener added a driving basket to bring the hosts back to life. Haislip scored again, but a big block by Andrea Crosariol allowed Slay to score at the other end to bring Avellino within 36-40. Diener took over with a six-meter jumper to cause Unicaja to call timeout at 38-40. The guests improved their defense, not allowing open shots now. Ndong dunked it to give Unicaja a 38-42 edge. Best struck from downtown and even when Welsch stepped up with a layup, Slay scored again to get within 43-44. Ndong stayed unstoppable with consecutive baskets, making the hosts call timeout at 43-48. Slay stepped up again with a jumper while Nikola Radulovic sank a three-pointer to tie the game at 48-48. Jimenez answered from downtown, but Warren sank a jumper to keep Avellino as close as 50-51. Thomas Kelati buried a running shot and free throws by Omar Cook and a buzzer-beating jumper by Gomis gave Unicaja a 53-57 edge after 30 minutes.
Unicaja slowed the game tempo and improved its defense early in the fourth quarter. Avellino stayed fully focused, however, and a layup by Williams got the hosts within 2 with eight minutes to go. Haislip dunked in traffic while a left-handed layup by Archibald caused Avellino to call timeout at 55-61. Warren took over with an outstanding three-pointer off the dribble, but free throws by Cook and another layup by Archibald made it a 7-point game. Slay stepped up with a big basket in the low post and Warren added a put-back layup to get Avellino within 62-65. Kelati provided a highlight with a key three-pointer, but Warren immediately answered from downtown and Williams added a layup for a 67-68 score with three minutes remaining. Unicaja called timeout and Cabezas shined with a floating layup, but Diener sank a triple to tie it at 70-70, with 58 seconds to go. Cabezas missed from downtown, but Slay missed a shot with 15 seconds to go. Jimenez, however, touched the ball out of bounds and the ball went back to the hosts. Slay fed Williams for a layup, good for a 72-70 Avellino edge with 1.9 seconds to go. Unicaja tried to feed Haislip for an alley-oop. Williams intercepted the ball, but started to run and was called for a traveling violation, giving Unicaja the ball back with a second remaining. But the visitors could not capitalize as Ndong was unable to even catch the ball, allowing all Avellino fans to enjoy the club's first-ever Euroleague win.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008