| Another would-be Top 16 qualifier was denied in Week 7 when DKV Joventut defeated Lottomatica Roma 97-93 in an offensive thriller in Badalona, Spain on Thursday. Joventut improved to 4-3 and took over third place in Group C, while Roma dropped to 5-2 and a first-place tie with Tau Ceramica. Roma, which lost its head coach on Monday, gave interim bench boss Nando Gentile a great effort, but Joventut's all-court energy wore down the guests in the final 5 minutes. The first half was an up-and-down scoring show that ended 48-48. Even when Joventut lifted off like a rocket to a 15-point lead in the third quarter, 71-56, Roma was far from done. The visitors rallied to within 78-75 in the final quarter, but Joventut's final surge was a little too much for Roma. Bracey Wright led the winners with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Luka Bogdanovic added 15 points, including a killer triple late, while Eduardo Hernandez-Sonseca had 14 and Demond Mallet 12. Roma got 22 points and 8 rebounds from Andre Hutson. Sani Becirovic added 14, Brandon Jennings added 12 each, Rodrigo De la Fuente and Ibrahim Jaaber 11 each.
Bogdanovic who got the scoreboard going with a triple from the corner for Joventut. Hutson got Roma on the board with free throws, but Henk Noral went inside for a basket-plus-free throw and Ferran Laviña hit 2 from the line to make it 6-2. Roberto Gabini answered with Roma's first triple, and as Norel went down with a whack to the nose, Rodrigo De la Fuente hit from the arc, too, for an 8-8 tie. Laviña drove untouched for a layup, but Hutson tied again at the foul line. Ricky Rubio entered and forced a turnover in seconds, getting Wright to the foul line to make it 12-10, but Joventut slept as Jennings got behind the press for a layup. Jennings went through the Joventut defense for the go-ahead layup. Hernandez-Sonseca entered and executed a three-point play to retake the lead for the hosts, After a turnover, Roma needed timeout, but got quick baskets from Primoz Brezec and Jaaber immediately to go up 15-18. Simas Jasaitis and Jabber traded layups before Jan Jagla's 3 free throws in 4 tries tied it up again. It was still tied when Rubio passed fullcourt to Laviña for a go-ahead layup at 26-24 on the first-quarter buzzer.
To start the second quarter, Hernandez-Sonseca's scored on a hook-and-free throw and then a layup fed to him by Rubio, but Roma answered with a Jennings layup and Brezec three-point play in the paint. When Jaaber tipped in a miss, Roma had tied it up again, 31-31, but Rubio and Mallet fed Bogdanovic consecutive alley-oops. When Wright struck from downtown, Joventut's lead had cliimbed to 38-33. Hutson answered inside, but next Jagla fired from deep to make it 41-35. After another timeout, Jaaber brought Roma back with a smooth triple, then fed De la Fuente twice inside, for a backdoor layup and a trip to the foul line and a 43-42 scoreboard. Joventut needed the timeout now, but Jacopo Giachetti raced coast-to-coast with the go-ahead layup for Roma. Joventut took it back on a second-chance rainbow shot by Wright. Hutson tied it with a free throw before Pau Ribas blasted a triple that Luigi Datome matched at 48-48, ending a thriller of a first half.
Norel returned with a mask to down his first shot right after halftime, but Gabini put Roma ahead 50-51 with a rocket from the corner. Bagdonavic answered with a layup to which Ribas added a steal and dunk as Joventut took the lead again, 54-51. After a Roma timeout, it was Bogdanovic again, dunking and hitting a free throw as Joventut's defense ruled, but the home team suffered a downer as Norel went off with an ankle injury on an intentional foul by Hutson. Mallet made 1 of 2 free throws and Jasaitis waltzed for a layup. Gabini and Mallett fired up dueling triples to make it 63-54 before De la Fuente and Wright traded free throws, the latter's on an intentional foul. Wright completed the possession with a huge triple, then stole and fed Mallet in the same spot. When his shot went down, too, it was 71-56 and the Badalona crowd was hitting the roof. After a timeout, Becirovic calmed the visitors, who now set up a zone defense, with a bank shot. Two Joventut turnovers and 5 points by Hutson later, it was 71-63 and Joventut was calling timeout. As soon as it was over, Gentile was tagged with a technical foul, Wright downed both free throws, but Htuson got a third-chance basket and a fastbreak dunk to make it 73-67. Jagla came off the bench and buried a triple to lift Joventut's spirits, but Becirovic dampened them again with a steal and layup for a 76-69 score after 30 minutes.
Roma's resurgence continued with Hutson and Jennings scoring in close to open the fourth quarter, making it a whole new ballgame at 77-73 after a 6-17 run. Norel got to the line and sank 1 of 2 for Joventut, whose pressure didn't prevent Jabber from getting a layup at 78-75. The ball ricocheted around the court without going through the basket for what seemed like an eternity, for this game, until Rubio found Wright for a two-point jumper and Ribas downed 1 of 2 free throws to make it 81-75 with under 6 mintes left. Hernandez-Sonseca dunked alone on a pass from Wright, and after Roma's 20th turnover, Mallet appeared in the corner for a high-arcing triple that brought down the house and brought back a double-digit lead, 86-75. When Laviña shot alone from the arc moments later, it was 91-77 and the visitors were down to gunning at a chance to rally. Hutson got it back to single digits with 4 points in a row at 91-83 with still more than 2 minutes left. Becirovic scored next to quiet the crowd at 91-85, but Bogdanovic stepped up with a big corner triple to almost settle the matter. In the last minute, however, Roma's zone held Joventut to a single free throw scoreless as De la Fuente, Brezec and Becirovic combined for 8 points to make it 95-93 with 17 seconds left. The next foul, on Becirovic, was called intentional, giving Ribas 2 free throws and Joventut the ball and th win. Joventut moved up in the standings and Roma must wait on Top 16 qualification.
Thursday, December 11, 2008