Avenging its only loss of the season so far, Lottomatica Roma picked up a fifth straight victory in Group C when it polished off visiting Alba Berlin 70-64 in the Italian capital on Thursday. Roma improved to 5-1 and continues to lead the group exclusively while Berlin dropped to 2-4 and fifth place. The game was a seesaw affair for most of the first 25 minutes until Roma took control and then held off a couple of late Berlin charges. Both teams were missing important leaders, November MVP Sani Becirovic and big man Primoz Brezec on Roma's side, while Berlin was again without main weapon Julius Jenkins. Ibrahim Jaaber paced all scorers with 16 points for the winners while Andre Hutson had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Roberto Gabini added 11 points and Jacopo Giachetti had an solid game with 9 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. Roma survived committing 18 turnovers and hitting just 2-of-10 foul shots in part because head coach Jasmin Repesa's men out-rebounded Berlin 29-19. For Berlin, four players scored 11 points - Ansu Sesay, Casey Jacobsen, Immanuel McElroy and Aleksandar Nadjfeji. Sesay also corralled 10 rebounds.
Allan Ray hit a jumper to open the scoring for Roma, while Jacobsen knew he needed to step up with Jenkins out and nailed a trey. Ray made foul shots and then Jaaber got out on the break for a layup after a turnover to make it 6-3. Jacobsen scored inside after some nice passing and then McElroy's unsportsmanlike foul shot knotted the game at 6-6. Jaaber broke down his defender for another layup and Angelo Gigli dunked and Roma opened a 14-8 advantage. Sesay converted a tough layup to stop the Roma run but Gabini drained a triple from the wing as the margin grew to its biggest so far, 19-11. Nadjfeji was quicker to the basket than Gabini at the other end converted the three-point play to make it 19-14 after one quarter.
Nadjfeji scored a layup off an inbounds pass to start the second quarter and Brandon Jennings started a Roma break and dished to Luigi Datome to make it 21-16. But that would be Roma's last basket for some time as the team clearly missed Brezec and Becirovic. Jacobsen continued his strong game with a triple before McElroy's jumper knotted the game at 21-21. Berlin finally pulled ahead as Rashad Wright made a fine pass to Adam Chubb, who converted for an easy two in the lane. Nadjfeji received Wright's next fine pass for an easy layup at 21-25. Hutson threw down a monster dunk to finally snap the 0-9 Alba run and cut the margin to 23-25. Jaaber's two foul shots made it 25-26 but Wright scored in the lane himself for a 25-28 lead. Roma knotted the game on Giachetti's basket and then Jaaber stole and drove for a layup to give Roma back the lead 30-28. Sesay answered after a nice pass by Nadjfeji and then Hutson got a tough layup for a 32-30 lead. McElroy would even the game with two foul shots only to have Wright made a horrible foul on Giachetti on a three-point attempt at the buzzer and the veteran made all three foul shots for a 35-32 Roma advantage at the break.
The second half started with two foul shots by Ray after Berlin coach Pavicevic was called a technical at the end of the first half. Ray then took a defensive layup and went coast to coast to push the lead to 39-32. McElroy turned Jennings' turnover into a dunk only to see Gabini answer with a driving layup for a 41-34 lead. Sesay willed in a tough layup in the lane and then Wright hit a free throw and it was 41-37. Steffen Hamann brought it to 41-40 with a driving layup. And after Gabini drove from the wing for a layup, Jacobsen hit a tough layup but could not even the game as he missed the extra foul shot. Giachetti then knifed into the lane to make it 45-42 before Gabini nailed a big triple and Gigli dunked easily inside after a fine pass by Giachetti and the lead was 50-43 after three periods.
Giachetti continued his brilliant game with a tough layup in the lane to make it 52-43. Jaaber then converted a reverse layup to push the lead to double digits for the first time - 54-43. Chubb answered with a three-pointer only to see Hutson get an easy lay-in inside after another nice pass from Giachetti. Berlin refused to die and Hamann hit a triple. Yet Giachetti made another fine assist -this time to Jaaber for a 58-49 lead and Gigli's foul shots made it 60-49. Sesay hit a tough layup and then knocked down a jumper to trim the deficit to 60-53 with over 4 minutes left. But Roma found the answer yet again as Ray found a cutting Jaaber for a layup. And after Jacobsen missed a three-ball, Hutson made two foul shots and it was 64-53. Berlin had one more push left inside and McElroy got out on the break for a dunk after a Wright steal and then McElroy made two foul shots to trim the margin to 64-57 with two minutes to play. But Hutson put back Ray's missed jumper and then banked in a shot off the glass and the advantage was 68-57 with just over a minute left. Nadjfeji converted a three-point play then Wright drove to the lane for a layup and Berlin trailed just 68-82 with 44 seconds remaining. But Jaaber knocked down a turnaround jumper just before the shot clock buzzer for a 70-62 lead, which Wright cut to 70-64 with two foul shots.
Thursday, December 4, 2008