Climamio Bologna remained unbeaten at home and took over first place in Group F one week before the end of the Top 16 by slashing Zalgiris Kaunas 87-74 at home in Bologna, Italy on Wednesday. After a balanced first quarter, Climamio built a big advantage and never trailed the rest of the way, raising its record to 4-1. That was good enough to take over first place after Tau Ceramica defeated Panathinaikos, leaving both with 3-2 records. Climamio can advance as long as it does not lose next week against Panathinaikos in Athens by more than 4 points. Wednesday was another great night for Climamio forward Erazem Lorbek, who ended with a game-high 24 points, including 13 that set the tone for the hosts in the first quarter. Ruben Douglas added 14 points for the winners and Stefano Mancinelli 10. Dainus Salenga scored 22 points for Zalgiris, which also got 19 from Tanoka Beard and 10 from Mindaugas Timinskas. Zalgiris, already eliminated, saw its record fall to 0-5.
Zalgiris replaced injured Robert Pack with Vidas Ginevicius at point and started with a bucket from Tanoka Beard. Lorbek soon answered with 5 straight points, however pushing Climamio up 5-2 after 2 minutes. The hosts kept going inside, now to big man Dalibor Bagaric, who scored with a baseline dunk and started showing intimidation on the defensive end. Beard decided to move far from the basket and hit a couple of jumpers to tie 6-6. Lorbek found his second three-pointer but Danius Salenga copied him, sparking a 0-7 run that put Zalgiris ahead 9-13, midway through the quarter. Vujanic found his first floater to cut the lead to 11-13, and after Beard landed a hook shot, Basile scored a corner triple to make it 14-15. Lorbek was still on fire, however, and his 3 new baskets gave him 13 for the quarter and Climamio a 22-17 advantage when it finished.
Big men Matjaz Smodis of Climamio and Beard clashed around the basket to start the second quarter with double and technical fouls before Gianmarco Pozzecco and Stefano Mancinelli pushed the hosts in front by double digits, 30-20. It took Mindaugas Timinskas to break a three-minute scoring drought for Zalgiris and when Paulius Jankunas found a put-back, the guests were within 32-24. Smodis restored the double-digit lead with a three-pointer before Mancinelli widened the gap to 37-24 with a dunk. Zalgiris continued to struggle to score at all, but Douglas jumped off the bench and poured in 9 points himself over 2 minutes - on a layup, jump shot, three-pointer and free throws - to give Climamio a commanding 18-point lead at 46-28. Zalgiris looked out of the game until Simonas Serapinas and Salenga rattled off 8 unanswered points for the visitors run before Bagaric close the half with a dunk at the buzzer that left a 48-36 score.
Lorbek struck first again after halftime, scoring 5 points in first 3 minutes to push Climamio up by 16 points, 55-39. Climamio's ball circulation was now a huge danger for the Zalgiris defense, which suffered as Lorbek slammed a Bagaric assist for 20 points and a 57-43 advantage. A scoreless spell lasting 2 minutes followed, after which Beard nailed a free throw and Dainus Salenga blasted a triple from beyond the arc to cut the lead to 10 points, 57-47. Climamio got help from an unexpected source then, Rodolfo Rombaldoni, whose first Euroleague basket dragged Climamio ahead by 15 again, 63-48, after 29 minutes. An exchange of triples by Salenga and Douglas ended the third quarter with Climamio holding a comfortable 66-51 advantage.
Zalgiris didn't give up in the last quarter. Ainars Bagatskis opened with a three-pointer, while Timinskas drove to again cut the lead to 10 points, 66-56. Climamio lost shine on offense as it went with nothing but free throws for 3 minutes. But after Bagaric's single foul shots, Zalgiris couldn't make a pair of open triples, which allowed Mancinelli to slam and hit the free throw that came with it for another big lead, 70-56. Climamio went further ahead when Pozzecco drove the lane for a 73-58 scoreboard. Beard and Timinskas tried to resurface but it was too late as the hosts managed the double-digit lead with Marco Belinelli hitting a triple for a 81-66 lead, giving the fans in Bologna a couple minutes yet to celebrate their team's home win streak and first-place standing in Group F.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005