| Real Madrid became the regular season Group D champion and earned top-seeded team status in the upcoming Top 16 Draw by edging Armani Jeans 66-75 in Milano, Italy on Wednesday night. Madrid finished first in Group D with a 8-2 record due to its tie-break advantage against Panathinaikos. Meanwhile, Milano finished fifth in Group D with a 3-7 record and therefore out of the Top 16. Madrid also registered its first-ever win in Milano, as it has lost its previous eight trips to this city since its first visit back in 1964. Rimantas Kaukenas led the winners with 12 points. Pablo Prigioni, Marko Jaric and a recovered Sergio Llull each added 11 while Felipe Reyes and Darjus Lavrinovic had 10 apiece for Madrid. Stefano Mancinelli led AJ Milano with 18 points. Jeff Viggiano added 13 while Massimo Bulleri had 11 for the hosts, that opened the game with an 11-2 run. A three-pointer by Prigioni allowed Madrid to tie the game, 19-19, early in the second quarter. Free throws by Viggiano gave Milano its biggest lead, 39-29, near halftime. Kaukenas shined late in the third quarter to give Madrid a 52-54 edge after 30 minutes. Madrid found a go-to guy in Llull early in the fourth quarter. Reyes and Prigioni made sure to lead Madrid to a well-deserved win.
Lavrinovic got Madrid going with free throws but Mancinelli sank a jump hook in the paint and free throws by Viggiano gave the hosts their first lead, 4-2. Bulleri took over with an off-balance jumper - and the free throw that came with it and Mancinelli added a fast break dunk to set the crowd on fire at 9-2. Madrid could not beat the hosts' zone defense and Mason Rocca scored in transition to make Madrid call timeout at 11-2. Prigioni stepped up with a second-chance layup and soon added a fast break layup to bring Madrid back to life, 11-6. Mancinelli provided a highlight with an outstanding reverse layup that Garbajosa matched with free throws. Reyes and Viggiano traded baskets, as Madrid managed to find more open shots now. Reyes kept pacing Madrid with free throws that a red hot Mancinelli buried a fadeaway jmper. Reyes hit a jump hook but Maciulis scored in the low post for a 19-14 Milano lead. A driving layup by Kaukenas brought Madrid within 19-16 after 10 minutes.
Prigioni struck from downtown early in the second quarter to tie the game at 19-19. Mancinelli shined with a layup and Hall did even better with a corner triple, good for a 24-19 Milano lead. Madrid found a go-to guy in Jorge Garbajosa, that followed a backdoor layup with a three-pointer to keep the guests as close as 26-24. Madrid had worked its way to beat the hosts' zone defense, using Garbajosa and Lavrinovic together on court. A driving layup by Jaric made Milano call timeout at 26-26. Marius Petravicius fed Viggiano for a backdoor layup and Marco Mordente added free throws to give the hosts some fresh air at 30-26. Lavrinovic and Bulleri traded driving layups but Madrid dominated the boards now. Rocca shined with a big basket in the low post and Bulleri downed a seven-meter bomb to make Madrid call a much-needed timeout at 37-29. Free throws by Viggiano made it a double-digit game, 39-29, but Jaric rescued Madrid with an outstanding driving layup and a free throw for a 39-32 Madrid deficit at halftime.
Milano faced severe injury problems, as Bulleri and Rocca had already picked up 3 fouls apiece. Reyes sank a five-meter jumper that Mancinelli erased with a jump hook. Viggiano set the crowd on fire with a high-flying fast break dunk. Madrid could not get Lavrinovic or Reyes involved and did not find one-on-one options for Louis Bullock either. Free throws by Mike Hall boosted his team's lead to 45-35. Jaric stepped up with a three-pointer and soon added an uncontested layup to make Milano stop the game at 45-40. Lavrinovic hit free throws that Mordente matched with a five-meter shot. Milano had entered the foul bonus, however, and Madrid tried to play more aggressive to go to the foul line often. Petravicius scored in the paint but a three-pointer by Sergio Llull got Madrid as close as 49-46. Hall hit free throws but Madrid found a go-to guy in Kaukenas. He sank a jumper and buried back-to-back three-pointers to give Madrid its first lead since the opening basket, 52-54, after 30 minutes.
Llull struck from downtown early in the fourth quarter and soon added free throws to make it a seven-point game, 52-59. Viggiano got the corwd involved with a corner three-pointer but Madrid kept powering the offensive board and improved its ball circulation against the hosts' zone defense. Sergi Vidal finished a long Madrid offense with an open triple, good for a 55-62 lead. Milano called timeout and Bulleri took over with a seven-meter bomb. Llull stayed on fire with another three-pointer but a reverse layup by Rocca gave Milano some hope at 60-65. Kaukenas stayed on fire with a stop-and-pop jumper that Mancinelli matched in the other end. Free throws by Lavrinovic gave Madrid a seven-point lead, 62-69, with 3 minutes left. The game turned into a physical battle and Madrid made the most out of it. Reyes hit foul shots that Mancinelli erased with a wild driving layup. A backdoor layup by Prigioni sealed the outcome, 64-73, allowing Madrid to celebrate a historical win that made the guests clinch first place in Group D.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010