After a neck-and-neck battle throughout the game, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan pulled out a thrilling 76-81 win in the final minute against Belgacom Spirou. The game featured numerous lead changes, but Milano prevailed in the end, thanks to steady play from Antonis Fotsis, who led the team with 19 points, and Danilo Gallinari, who added 17. Both players also hit timely foul shots with the game on the line. Ioannis Bourousis was also a factor for the visitors, establishing an effective low-post game, especially in the final quarter. Spirou was led by Demond Mallet’s 21 points, while Andre Riddick added 12 points and 8 rebounds. Both Group C teams needed the win to stay in the upper half of the standings, but it was Milan that lifted its record to 2-2, while Spirou slipped to 1-3.
Jiri Welsch sank Spirou’s first shot of the game, followed by a baseline jumper from Christophe Beghin, an early 4-0 lead for the hosts, which was soon cut in half by Fotsis on a put back in the paint. Bourousis knotted the score on a reverse layup, then Fotsis slammed it home for EA7’s first lead, 4-6. Stefano Mancinelli and Justin Hamilton exchanged baskets before Mallet buried a shot from downtown, the first of the game, to retake the lead, 9-8. Beghin layed in on a fastbreak, which was answered by Leon Redosevic in the paint, 11-10. Malik Hairston gave Milano its first lead, 11-12, after grabbing a loose ball under the glass for an offensive put back. Gallinari scored from down low, upping the lead to 11-14 at the end of the quarter, as Milano continued to use its height advantage inside.
Randy Oveneke hit a layup, then banked in an offensive rebound high off the glass to put Charleroi back on top, 15-14. Gallinari showed his outside game, nailing a three, as EA7 went ahead. Oveneke split free throws, then Hairston penetrated to the basket, 16-19. Green knocked down two foul shots, then added a right-handed hook in the lane. Mason Rocca and Chris Hill exchanged two rapid-fire baskets, 22-21. Gallinari hit a fall away, which was answered by Green from the top of the key as both teams maintained a steady scoring pace. Then the game entered a two-minute lull offensively, apart from Beghin’s free throw, until Rocca hit on a put back at the 3:20 mark, which tied the game at 25-25. Welsch pulled up for a jumper to reclaim the lead, then Mallet and Gallinari hit their free throws as Spirou stayed up 29-27. Milano took the lead again, 29-30, as Drew Nicholas broke a poor-shooting streak with a three-pointer. The rest of the quarter belonged to Spirou, which scored 5 consecutive points on a layup by Shengelia, who later split free throws, and another offensive tap in by Green to end the half leading 34-30.
Milano went down low straightaway to Bourousis, who scored on two nice spin moves in the lane. Shengelia also scored to push. Cook found Fotsis, who drained a jumper to give the visitors the lead once more, 36-37. A Shengelia crossover to set up a drive and dunk sent the seesaw the other way. Gallinari answered with a hard drive to the basket. Beghin and Bourousis exchanged baskets down low. Mallet drained a mid-range jumper to make it 42-41. Fotsis hit a three, then Beghin knocked down an open jumper on the baseline which tied the game at 44-44. The seesaw battle continued as Gallinari scored an easy two on the fastbreak, then Oveneke drilled a triple. Mallet put in a layup on nice a back cut and was fouled as Spirou got out to a 50-46 lead. Riddick tapped in missed layup to give Charleroi the biggest lead of the game, but it was short-lived as Nicholas soon banged in a triple. The latter's split free throws were answered by two from the line by Mallet, who then went hard to the glass again for a layup, 56-50. Fotsis split free throws, but Oveneke scored down low and lifted the lead to 58-51. With seconds left, Hairston hit an off-balance shot off the drive, ending the quarter 58-53.
Mallet opened the final quarter by nailing a jumper and converting on the foul shot, 61-53. Jacopo Giachetti knocked down a rainbow triple with a second on shot clock to keep Milano in the hunt. Hairston added 2 free throws, then Fotsis drained another three-pointer to knot the game at 61-61. After Beghin foul shots and a Fotis dunk, Mallet knocked down a triple to go up 66-63. Bourousis responded in the low post, then Cook streaked to the basket for a layup and foul shot, which gave Milano its first lead of the quarter 66-68. Spirou scored the next 6 – 5 from Hamilton on a basket and 3 foul shots – followed by a free throw from Mallet to stay up 72-68. A three-pointer from Fotsis and a basket from Riddick kept the hosts in front 74-71, but then Nicholas buried a laser from downtown to lock the game at 74 with a 1:30 left. Gallinari, who was fouled twice in the last minute, hit all 4 shots, then Fotsis hit 2 to give the visitors a 74-79 edge. Green dunked with 10 seconds left, but they proved to be Spirou’s only points in the final minute. Cook ended the scoring with 2 more foul shots for Milano, icing the win at 76-81.
Thursday, November 10, 2011