| Crvena Zvezda downed Benetton Basket Treviso 104-83 on Tuesday in Belgrade to win Group F with a 5-1 record. In a head-to-head showdown for the top spot, the hosts left little doubt and dropped Benetton to 4-2. Crvena Z. advances to Last 16 Group L with CEZ Nymburk, Turk Teleom and Gran Canaria 2014. Benetton will be part of Group K with Bizkaia Bilbao Basket, Panellinios and Brose Baskets Bamberg. A 20-8 run that bridged the last two quarters and highlighted by 10 points from Mario Keselj gave Crvena Zvezda a 94-74 margin late in the fourth quarter and closed the contest. Mike Taylor led the way for Crvena Zvezda with 24 points – 16 of them in the first half – and 5 steals. Elmedin Kikanovic added 22, Tadija Dragicevic 17, FIlip Videnov 15 and Keselj 12. Gary Neal was the main contributor for Benetton with 20 points, KC Rivers tallied 18, CJ Wallace 14 and Davor Kus 11 as the team shot 13 of 26 from downtown.
Benetton had an exciting start with Neal scoring from downtown for a 3-10 margin after three minutes. Boris Bakic made it 11-15 with two easy on the break. Kus answered with another three for the guests. Oliver Stevic assisted by Taylor made it 19-22, but Benetton showed to be in a special shooting night when youngster Andrea De Nicolao came off the bench to hit a three for a 19-25 lead with two minutes left in the quarter. Rivers with back-to-back layups fixed the final 23-29 for Treviso at the end of the first quarter. Rivers gave a 26-33 cushion to Benetton, but Crvena Zvezda pushed by its fans went on a 10-0 run, highlighted by 8 points from Taylor to get its first advantage of the night, 36-33. The lead changed five times and the score was tied at 44-44 after Neal free throws before he scored another long distance shot. After the hosts used a timeout, Kikanovic and Dragicevic pushed Crvena Zvezda ahead on 51-47. The last basket was from Kus from the top of the key to make it 51-49 at halftime.
Rivers opened the third quarter by tying the score at 51-51. Then Videnov from beyond the arc fueled the hosts to 60-55, and despite another triple from Rivers, Taylor and Kikanovic scored layups to push the margin to 68-59. Donatas Motiejunas took charge for Benetton from mid range and later from downtown to get his team within 69-64. After Kikanovic and Sandro Nicevic scored in the paint, Keselj boosted his side at the buzzer with a three-pointer to finish the third quarter up 74-66. Keselj opened the last quarter with 5 more points. Benetton did not give up and Kus climbed within 79-71 with a triple. Crvena Zvezda made a big team effort to close the game, and after a three from Dragicevic, Benetton forced up outside shots and the home team got easy points in the break off the rebounds. A Kikanovic slam gave Crvena Zvezda a 90-74 margin with four minutes left in the game. Videnov extended the cushion to 99-76 and fixed the final score from beyond the arc as the hosts celebrated the win and first place.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010