Artland Dragons made a major move to try to qualify for the Top 16 from Group G on Tuesday by upsetting Fortitudo 89-93 on the road in Fortitudo, Italy. The two teams now have 2-3 records and are tied for second place. Since Artland has now won twice against Fortitudo, however, the German team would advance if with another victory in the last week of the regular season. Artland hosts last-place FMP next week while Fortitudo visits first-place Pamesa Valencia. Tuesday's coup in Fortitudo had a star turn, that of forward Adam Hess, who led Artland with 27 points without missing a shot all night. Hess made 5 of 5 two-poiners, 4 of 4 triples and 5 of 5 free throws for the winners. Darren Fenn followed with 22 points, Lamont McIntosh 19 and Drew Nieitzel 10 for Artland. Fortitudo got 20 points from Qyntel Woods, 17 from Marcelinho Huertas, 12 each from D.J. Strawberry and Stefano Mancinelli, and 11 from Kieron Achara. The difference proved to be Artland's 12-for-26 accuracy from downtown (46%) as compared to 6 for 20 (30%) by Fortitudo.
Woods used opened the scoring with a layup for Fortitudo, but Artland soon blasted ahead 2-8 thanks to 6 points from Pruitt. After a Fortitudo timeout, Hess made it a 0-10 run for Artland before drives from Huertas and Woods got Fortitudo tied at 12-12. Blalock lifted the guests with a three-pointer to which Pruitt added his second from the arc as Artland zoomed ahead again, 14-18. Huertas sank a beautiful floater for Fortitudo, but Hess shined in as the teams exchanged quick baskets en route to a 24-28 score after one quarter. Tyray Pearson opened the second quarter by adding to Artland's lead. Gregor Fucka ended 2 scoreless minutes for Fortitudo with a hook shot, but a put-back by McIntosh kept the visitors up 28-33. Woods took over again with a drive, steal and block that put Fortitudo within a point, at 32-33. Another pair of triples by Hess restored a four-point gap, 41-45, for Artland at the end of the first half. Mancinelli opened the second half with Fortitudo's first triple of the game, but Hess immediately matched it while putting Artland further ahead, 44-52, despite a Fortitudo timeout. After Fenn upped the difference to double digits, a second timeout in a row called by angry Fortitudo boss Cesare Pancotto was followed by McIntosh and Hess again hitting triples for the guests, good for a 46-60 score. Achara limited the damage with a buzzer-beater triple but McIntosh had another in him, too, as Artland remained in control, 53-65, after 30 minutes. Artland spent the early fourth quarter using the 24-second clock to the fullest. McIntosh scored what seemed a killer triple but Achara was rallying Fortitudo with a put-back. Strawberry reduced the gap to single digits with a brilliant reverse and Huertas scored a triple to get the crowd excited again at 64-70 with 5 minutes to play. The fans were soon silenced, however, as the Artland re-established a double-figure lead. Mancinelli and Strawberry then combined for 6 points from the arc before Pruitt sank his free throws. Woods added 4 points but McIntosh was left unmarked in the corner again and he punished Fortitudo, making it 75-82 with 1:32 to play. Gordon dunked to get Fortitudo closer but an offensive foul by Woods stopped that momentum and Artland wrapped up a valuable away win that kept its hopes of qualification alive.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009