Armani Jeans Milano registered its first win in Group D by edging Panionios On Telecoms 77-73 at home on Thursday night. AJ Milano broke its four-game losing streak and improved to 1-4 in the Group D standings. Meanwhile, Panionios ties with Efes Pilsen and Partizan for third place at 2-3. David Hawkins led the winners with 18 points on 5-for-7 two-pointers and 8-for-8 free throws. Mason Rocca posted a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, as well as being the key player down the stretch, while Mike Hall had 14 points - all in the second half - on 4-for-6 three-pointers for Milano. Aaron Miles led Panionios with 16 points. Lonny Baxter added 15 and 12 rebounds for another double-double, Miroslav Raicevic had 14 points while Branko Cvetkovic got 10 for the guests. The game saw as many as 18 lead changes before Ioannis Kalampokis sank free throws to give Panionios its final lead, 72-73, with a minute to go. Rocca took over with a put-back layup and added a three-point play to seal the outcome down the stretch.
Raicevic got Panionios going with a long jumper while Baxter added a free throw for a 0-3 lead, as the guests tried to get its big men involved. Yohann Sangare sank a six-meter shot with the left corner that Rocca followed with his trademark layup to put Milano ahead, 4-3. Miles fed Baxter for a dunk but Hawkins copied him in the other end. Cvetkovic made free throws but another basket by Rocca provided another lead change, 8-7. Baxter and an unstoppable Rocca traded layups, but consecutive triples by Jobey Thomas allowed Milano to get a five-point lead, 16-11. Cvetkovic kept pacing Panionios with 4 unanswered points to get Panionios as close as 16-15. Armani Jeans kept missing open shots now until Rocca found an fast break layup off a steal. Baxter beat the buzzer with a put-back layup to bring Panionios within 18-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams struggled to score early in the second quarter, trading turnovers until Raicevic stepped up with free throws. Miles beat the shot clock buzzer with a triple, good for a 18-22 Panionios lead. AJ Milano had been scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Massimo Bulleri found an easy basket but Ivan Zoroski and Raicevic answered from downtown to boost the guests' margin to 20-28. Cvetkovic capped a 0-8 Panionios run with an acrobatic driving layup, as Luca Vitali tried to change things for Milano. Raicevic took over with a big dunk coming off the baseline that Hawkins improved with a three-point play. Rocca made free throws to make Panionios call timeout at 27-32. Hawkins sank 4-for-4 foul shots, Panionios struggled against the hosts' zone defense. Baxter tried to change things with foul shots that Bulleri matched with an outstanding basket. Baxter scored again but a triple by Vitali tied it at 36-36. Miles had the last word in this quarter, as his final basket gave Panionios a 36-38 halftime edge.
Hall sank a mid-range jumper right after the break but Hawkins scored off a steal to get Milano going. Cvetkovic took over with a power layup to tie the game again, 40-40. It didn't last long, however, as Raicevic nailed a triple while a free throw by Miles put the guests back ahead, 40-44. Sangare and Raicevic traded layups while Rocca and Kalampokis sank foul shots for a 43-47 score. Baxter was next on the line and did not miss for a 43-49 Panionios lead. Hawkins stepped up with a big three-point play but Miles soon answered with a layup that Kalampokis followed with a jumper to make the hosts call timeout at 48-53. Hall stepped up with a three-pointer and even when Miles matched it with a three-point play, Milano soon got back in track. Free throws by Hawkins ignited a 9-0 run in which a floating layup by Marco Mordente and another bomb from downtown by Hall gave Milano a six-point lead, 62-56, after 30 minutes.
Panionios improved its defense right at the start of the fourth quarter, forcing Milano to committ three early turnovers in this period. Meanwhile, Miles made free throws while Zoroski followed a layup with three-pointer to make the hosts call timeout at 62-63. Miles capped a 0-10 Panionios run with his own shot from downtown but Hall buried a critical triple to keep Milano within 65-66. Hawkins added a put-back basket to provide another lead change, 67-66. Panionios called timeout while Levon Kendall and Baxter stepped up with foul shots to put the guests back ahead, 67-69, with 4 minutes to go. Hall - who else? - nailed an incredible three-pointer but Kendall fired in a turnaround jumper for a 70-71 Panionios edge. Thomas buried a four-meter jumper but Kalampokis put Panionios back ahead, 72-73. Rocca rescued Milano with a put-back layup, Baxter missed in the other end while Vitali fed Rocca for a three-point play that gave the hosts a 77-73 edge with 42.5 seconds remaining. Cvetkovic and Miles missed key shots, allowing all Milano fans to celebrate their team's first Euroleague win this season!
Thursday, November 27, 2008