After losing its lead in the third quarter, Bennet Cantu woke up to run away to a 72-57 home win over visiting Panellinios on Tuesday to take a jump to the top of Group E. A 12-3 swing in Cantu's favor late in the third quarter, spurred by consecutive three-pointers from veteran Michele Mian, made the difference as the hosts controlled the scoreboard the rest of the way. Jonathan Tabu led the winners with 17 points concentrated in the middle quarters while Nicolo Mazzarino added 12, all on three-point shots. The Cantu perimeter defense, which forced Panellinios into 3-for-15 three-point shooting and 15 turnovers, was key to the victory, as was the 16-6 difference in assists. Samo Udrih was the only double-digit scorer for Panellinios, with 15 points. The entire 15-point final margin could be found in the difference in three-pointers made, 10 for Cantu as opposed to 3 for Panellinios.
Mazzarino landed 2 three-pointers and Panellinios only free throws on the way to an early 8-5 scoreboard. It wasn't until Manu Markoishvili added 5 points to make it 15-6 in minute 8 that the first Panellinios shot from the floor landed, a triple of the hand of Udrih. Joseph Krabbenhoft quickly added 4 more points for the visitors, to get them within 15-13, but Mike Green and Marco Diviach did the same to keep Cantu comfortably in front, 18-14, after 10 minutes. Evangelos Slavkos got Panellinios closer with the first basket of the second quarter, and soon successive baskets by Vasilis Xanthopoulos, Udrih and Andre Brown made gave the visitors a lead back, 21-22. Tabu struck then with a three-pointer and free throws, but Panellinios matched him until Maurice Bailey, from long range, made it 26-29 for the guests. Mazzarino immediately tied it, and back and forth they went until Tabu downed his second shot from the arc, good for a 34-33 Cantu edge at the half.
After a slow start to the third quarter, Panellinios took a 34-36 lead on 3 free throws by Udrih that Mazzarino answered with his fourth triple. But Cantu couldn't hold the lead as Djuro Ostojic and Udrih made it 37-40. Soon, when Derrick Byars added a triple, Panellinios had a 39-45 lead. Tabu and Mike Green used free throws to end the threat, and Cantu's defense held strong until veteran Michele Mian could send back-to-back three-pointers down the hatch to propel the hosts to a new lead, 52-48, after 30 minutes. The momentum followed Cantu into the final quarter as Tabu and Ben Ortner shared 5 points before Byars scored for Panellinios to make it 57-50. Then the Cantu defense took over completely during a five-minute, 9-0 run finished with a layup by veteran Denis Marconato that had the hosts in control, 66-50, with less than 4 minutes left. Markoishvili supplied the latest, highest lead of 72-54 as Cantu aced its home opener and did so by a margin big enough to perhaps make even more of a difference later.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010