Climamio threw its weight towards the top of Group A with a thrilling 75-64 victory against visiting co-leader Zalgiris in Bologna, Italy on Thursday. In a game that was close for 30 minutes, Climamio managed to get rid of Zalgiris thanks to a 24-14 fourth quarter that the visitors led at the start. Climamio climbs to a 4-3 record, and although that only means fourth place, it is just a victory behind tri-leaders Zalgiris, Benetton and Tau Ceramica, all 5-2 now. The inside-outside duo of Dalibor Bagaric and Marco Belinelli were Climamio's best scorers with 15 points apiece. Erazem Lorbek added 9 points. For the guests, Darjus Lavrinovic scored 24 points while Paulius Jankunas and Elias Ayuso helped with 14 each. Strangely enough, Zalgiris point guard Ed Cota didn't score a single point but pulled 11 rebounds.
Kiwane Garris got the hosts going with a jumper and an assist to Bagaric in a 4-0 Climamio start. Ayuso responded with a triple but the Climamio big men enlarged the gap to 8-3 as Lorbek turned a steal into a layup. Despite grabbing plenty offensive rebounds, Zalgiris could not convert them to points, so Nate Green's fastbreak dunk left Climamio up 10-3 midway through the quarter. After a Zalgiris timeout, Lavrinovic broke the drought and Ayuso added a triple to make it 12-8. Climamio kept feeding Bagaric, who responded with another nice move to give his team a 14-8 edge. Zalgiris tried to feed Jankunas similarly, but a Climamio steal led to foul shots by Green and a 16-10 score. Now, it was the Zalgiris big men who reacted with a 0-7 run, finished with a triple from Lavrinovic and the visitors' first lead, 16-17. Climamio needed free throws from Belinelli to go back ahead, 18-17, after 10 minutes.
Belinelli broke open the second quarter with a quick score but Vidas Ginevicius drove the lane to answer. Travis Watson scored inside and stole for an easy dunk to boost Climamio's lead to 25-19 and force a Zalgiris timeout. Climamio wasted chances to run away and Lavrinovic made the hosts pay with a triple and a dunk for the tie, 25-25. Feeding Bagaric was money in the bank for Climamio as he made it 27-25, just before Reggie Freeman was awarded 3 foul shots - and made them - for a new Zalgiris lead, 27-28. Belinelli answered with a three-pointer for Climamio, but Lavrinovic neutralized it with a baseline basket-and-free throw to make it 30-31. The hosts followed Belinelli now as the teenager drew Jonas Maciulis’s fourth foul and scored free throws for a 33-32 Climamio lead. Zalgiris got the last spark, however, as Ayuso beat the buzzer to put the guests on top, 33-34, at the break.
Big men took over the game in the third quarter. First, Lavrinovic and Jankunas pushed Zalgiris up by 33-38, its highest lead so far. Then, Watson scored and Lorbek hit a triple to pull the hosts within, 37-38. Green fed Watson and Belinelli drove to the rim as Climamio took the lead back at 43-40, after Jankunas missed open jumpers. Lorbek widened the edge with a turnaround shot but Jankunas remedied with free throws to get Zalgiris close, 45-43. Belinelli eluded Freeman by running around screens to score 6 unanswered points that boosted Climamio in front by 8 points, 51-43, after two free-throws by Bagaric. With Ginevicius playing the point, Zalgiris resurfaced down the streatch as his three-pointer capped a 0-7 run that left a one-point game, 51-50, after 30 minutes.
Zalgiris took the lead early in the fourth quarter, 51-53, on a three-point play by Maciulis. Climamio returned to feeding Bagaric and he built a three-point lead for the hosts, 58-55. On the defensive end, however, Climamio couldn’t handle Lavrinovic, who pulled Zalgiris within 58-57. Climamio increased its defensive intensity now and left Zalgiris without a basket for 3 minutes during which the hosts took charge with an 11-1 run, capped by threes from Garris and Mancinelli, making it 69-58. Ayuso answered from the arc for Zalgiris, but with under 3 minutes left, the momentum had already gone to the hosts. Mancinelli's drive-with-free throw forged the highest lead at 74-61 as Climamio put itself in the top of the group at the halfway mark in the regular season.
Thursday, December 15, 2005