| Maroussi BC took a major step forwards to make it to the Top 16 in Group C by downing Lottomatica Roma 74-87 in the Italian capital on Wednesday night. Both teams tie for fourth place in Group C at 3-5 but Maroussi is fourth due to its tie-break advantage against Lottomatica. Maroussi would make it to the Top 16 in Game 9 if it beats Caja Laboral and Lottomatica loses against Maccabi Electra. Lottomatica registered its fifth consecutive loss in Group C and now needs to win one more game tham Maroussi to advance. Stevan Nadjfeji paced the winners with 22 points off the bench. Jared Homan added 13 while Michalis Pelekanos had 12 for Maroussi. Kennedy Winston led Lottomatica with 26 points. Ricky Minard added 22 while Andrea Crosariol had 14 for the hosts. Maroussi opened the game with a 2-12 run that kept a 17-28 margin after 10 minutes on a dunk by Jamon Lucas. An alleyoop layup by Dimitrios Mavroeidis made it a 16-point game, 32-48, near halftime. Winston, Crosariol and Minard managed to bring Lottomatica within 57-63 late in the third quarter but an unstoppable Nadjfeji sealed the outcome, 66-83, with 2 minutes left. A free throw by Lucas allowed Maroussi to get the tie-break advantage in this head-to-head race for fourth place in Group C
Lucas got Maroussi going with a free throw and Pelekanos struck from downtown for a 0-4 lead. Winston shined with a driving layup but a layup by Pelekanos and a three-point play by Kostas Kaimakoglou boosted the guests' lead to 2-9. A big triple by Billy Keys made Roma call timeout at 2-12. Roma tried to speed up the game tempo and Minard took over with an acrobatic three-point play that Pelekanos matched in the other end to restore a double-digit lead, 5-15. Crosariol rolled off the pick to set the crowd on fire with a dunk but Homan scored inside and soon added a jump hook for a 7-19 Maroussi lead. Winston stepped up with back-to-back three-pointers to give Roma some hope at 13-19. Nadjfeji sank free throws that Crosariol matched with a jump hook. Maroussi did not panic, however, as Nadjfeji stepped up with a fast break layup and soon added a corner triple for a 17-26 lead. A fast break dunk by Lucas fixed the score at 17-28 after 10 minutes.
Winston kept pacing Lottomatica with a jumper early in the second quarter and Andre Hutson soon added free throws for a 21-30 deficit. Pelekanos took over with a big three-pointer, as Roma could not find open shots now. Maroussi tried to improve its ball circulation with Marios Batis at point guard. The hosts tried to play more aggressive, powering the offensive board. Crosariol sank a left-handed jump hook but a red hot Nadjfeji answered from downtown for a 23-36 score. Minard and Igor Milosevic joined the three-point shootout and Minard provided a highlight with an unbelievable off-balance layup. A fast break dunk by Winston got the crowd involved at 30-40, as Maroussi struggled to score for the first time tonight. Nadjfeji - who else? - rescued his team with a three-pointer but Minard sank a jumper for a 32-43 score. Keys downed a big triple that Mavroeidis followed with an alleyoop layup. Minard and Milosevic struck from downtown but free throws by Winston and a buzzer-beating layup by Angelo Gigli got Roma within 39-51 at halftime.
Ibby Jaaber tried to ignite his team's comeback with a driving layup immediately after the break. Keys, however, quickly answered with a corner triple for a 41-54 Maroussi margin. Lucas sank a running jumper in transition that Crosariol matched with a power layup. Homan soon sank a turnaround jumper to make it a 15-point game, 43-58. Crosariol kept pacing Roma with consecutive dunks, as Maroussi had started to committ turnovers. Winston shined with an outstanding driving layup that made Maroussi call timeout at 49-58. Roma was all over the place in defense and Minard capped an 8-0 run with free throws. Homan silenced the crowd with a turnaround jumper that Minard matched with a floating layup. Homan followed a big block with a layup to make Roma call tiemout at 53-62. Crosariol rescued the hosts with a put-back basket and Jaaber added a reverse layup for a six-point Lottomatica deficit at 57-63. Kaimakoglou made free throws to give Maroussi some fresh air, 57-65, after 30 minutes.
Batis sank a jumper early in the fourth quarter, as Winston had to go back to the bench with 4 fouls. Roma changed its game plan without its main scoring threat, trying to run its offense through Hutson now. Minard dunked it off a steal but Mavroeidis matched it with a jumper. Hutson shined with a power layup but free throws by Milosevic kept Maroussi way ahead, 61-71, with 6 minutes left. Nadjfeji downed another three-pointer and even when Winston sank an incredible driving layup, he nailed a long jumper for a 63-76 Maroussi lead. Milosevic a foul shot and a layup by Mavroeidis sealed the outcome, 63-79, with 4 minutes left. Both teams fought now for the tie-break advantage, as Roma had registered a 12-point win in Athens. Minard hit a triple but Nadjfeji scored again and soon added free throws for a 66-83 Maroussi lead with 2 minutes to go. Winston and Crosariol got the hosts within 71-86 with 24 seconds left. A good-as-gold free throw by Lucas allowed Maroussi to steal the tie-break advantage and seal what could be a pivotal road win in its race to reach the Top 16.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009