Armani Jeans Milano survived a do-or-die situation in Group D and kept options to advance to the Top 16 by downing Real Madrid 70-61 at home on Thursday. Milano improved to 4-5 and joins a three-way tie for third place along with Efes Pilsen and Partizan, with all teams keeping its chances to reach the next round. Meanwhile, Real Madrid dropped to 5-4, advanced to the Top 16 despite this loss and will finish second in Group D if it beats Efes Pilsen in the Spanish capital next week. Marco Mordente paced the winners with 23 points on 5-for-6 three-pointers. Mason Rocca added 14 while David Hawkins had 13 for Milano. Quinton Hosley had 13 points for Real Madrid while Louis Bullock added 10. Hosley and an outstanding Bullock helped Madrid to get a 15-25 margin early in the second quarter. Milano found a go-to guy in Rocca, that helped the hosts to get within 29-30 at halftime. Madrid boosted its lead to 39-48 late in the third quarter but Mordente had other ideas in mind. He hit a three-pointer, and another, and another one to seal the outcome, 66-58, with a minute to go, allowing Milano to keep fighting for a Tiop 16 spot next week.
Coach Joan Plaza shocked everyone by placing Tomas Van den Spiegel in the starting lineup. He got his team going with a tip-in that Hawkins erased with a
fast break dunk. Jeremiah Massey a free throw while another tip-in by Van den Spiegel gave Madrid a 2-5 lead. Pape Sow stepped up with a power layup while free throws by Hawkins gave Milano its first lead, 6-5. Hawkins kept pacing the hosts with free throws but Felipe Reyes came off the bench and immediately shined with a put-back layup. Madrid locked the defensive rebound with Reyes on court but had already entered the foul bonus, allowing Jamel Thomas and Rocca to combine for 5-for-6 free throws and give Milano a 13-9 edge. Reyes scored in the low post while Venson Hamilton sank foul shots to tie the game at 13-13. Bullock found Reyes down low while Hosley added a fast break dunk to make Milano call timeout, 13-17. A buzzer-beating fallaway jumper by Hosley gave Madrid a 13-20 lead after 10 minutes.
Bullock scored off a steal right at the start of the second quarter and added a triple that capped a 0-13 run, good for a 13-22 Madrid lead. Hawkins tried to
rescue Milano with free throws but Bullock bettered that with a triple to make it a double-digit game, 15-25. Mordente sank an open triple while Rocca added
a driving layup to bring Milano back to life, 20-25. Milano kept missing shots, however, but Madrid failed to get Bullock and Reyes involved now. Hosley and
Mocca traded foul shots for a 21-26 score. Massey took over with a put-back layup, as Milano called timeout to adjust its offense. Rocca shined with his
trademark driving layup while Thomas struck from downtown to bring the hosts within 27-28. Reyes took over with a layup off a Madrid timeout but Thomas beat
the buzzer with a fast break basket to make it a one-point game, 29-30, as both teams headed back to the locker rooms.
Van den Spiegel beat the buzzer with a layup right after the break while Hosley added a five-meter jumper to restore a 29-34 Madrid edge. Hawkins nailed a triple from the top of the key but Bullock immediately answered from downtown, as Madrid now dominated the boards with Hosley, Massey and Van den Spiegel together on court. Hosley sank free throws in a 0-9 run that Van den Spiegel capped with a layup, good for a 32-41 Madrid lead. Hawkins sank a floating jumper that Raul Lopez matched with an outstanding turnaround jumper. Rocca tried to change things with a layup that Lopez erased with an acrobatic basket. Mordente tried to ignite the hosts' comeback with a triple but Bullock scored in transition for a 39-48 Madrid margin. Rocca shined with a three-point play while Mordente nailed another one from downtown to give the hosts some hope, 45-50. A free throw by Rocca and three-pointers by Alex Mumbru and Yohann Sangare fixed the score at 49-53 after 30 minutes.
An unstoppable Mordente hit free throws early in the fourth quarter and soon buried another three-pointer to put Milano back ahead, 54-53. Mindaugas Katelynas shined with a tip-in, as Hamilton was disqualified for head-butting Mordente. Milano dominated the offensive board now, while Mordente - who else? - capped a 12-0 run with a driving basket. Madrid struggled for 5 minutes against the hosts' zone defense until Lopez struck from downtown to get his tesm within 58-56. Katelynas stayed on fire with another basket, making Madrid call timeout. Massey scored in the low post but Sangare fired in a seven-meter bomb for a 63-58 score with 2 minutes to go. A three-pointer by Mordente sealed the outcome down the stretch, 66-58. Even when Bullock answered from downtown, Mordente sank free throws to seal his outstanding game that allowed Milano to keep its Top 16 dreams alive.
Thursday, January 8, 2009