Armani Jeans held onto a slim chance to make it to the Euroleague Top 16 from Group B when it downed visiting Cibona 84-64 in Milan, Italy on Wednesday. Milano broke a four-game losing streak and improved to 3-8 in the Group B standings, two wins away from Cibona and Olympiacos, who share the decisive fifth place in the standings. Milano will likely need to win all its remaining games to think about qualifying to the next round. Preston Shumpert led the winners with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting, while Giacomo Galanda and Tyrone Grant each had 12 points. Grant doubled up with 13 rebounds, while Joseph Blair also had a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Dante Calabria scored 11 points and Massimo Bulleri added 10 for Milano. Marino Bazdaric had 12 points for Cibona while Damir Markota and Bennett Davison each had 10 for the guests.
Milano started the game with twin point guards, Bulleri and Alejandro Montecchia. Galanda shined early, scoring 5 quick points to give the hosts a 7-2 margin. Calabria fired in a three which Grant followed with a reverse layup, as Cibona called timeout at 12-4 to adjust its defense. Bulleri soon added a triple for a 15-4 Milano lead, as Davison broke 4 scoreless minutes for Cibona from the free throw line. Galanda hit his second three, but free throws by Scoonie Penn and a follow-up layup by Davison brought Cibona within 19-11. Blair stepped up with back-to-back baskets for a 10-point Milano margin at 23-13. Markota beat the shot clock with a three but Sven Schultze answered from downtown. Davor Marcelic came off the bench and immediately hit a corner three against Milano's 3-2 zone defense while Markota fixed the score at 30-20 after 10 minutes.
Shumpert canned a turnaround jumper to keep Milano in charge then Blair boosted the hosts to 35-20 with an easy basket in the paint. Markota made two from the foul line for the first points for Cibona in this quarter. Milano kept shining from downtown, as back-to-back threes by Mario Gigena and Shumpert made it a 17-point game at 41-24. Penn scored its first basket on an acrobatic layup after missing his 6 opening shots and Ivan Perincic followed it with a big three to bring Cibona within 41-29. Both teams exchanged baskets for a while until Cibona improved its defense in the final 2 minutes of the half. Marcelic hit a mid-range jumper, igniting a 0-8 run in which Bazdaric hit a pull-up jumper and Davison added a layup to bring Cibona within 45-39 at halftime.
Bulleri fed Grant for an easy layup right after the break, but Bazdaric answered from downtown to cut the guests' deficit to 47-42. Penn erased another point from the foul line, while Bazdaric nailed another corner three to make it a one-point game, 47-46. It didn't last long, however, as Bulleri and Grant pushed the hosts' lead to 51-46 midway through this period. Cibona lost its momentum with back-to-back turnovers, while Galanda scored in the low post to force the guests' timeout with Armani Jeans leading 53-46. Bazdaric - who else? - fired in another triple and Penn hit a short jumper to bring Cibona within 55-51. Calabria came to the rescue with a three, igniting a 12-2 run in which Shumpert scored 7 unanswered points. Even when Markota stepped up with a put-back layup, Claudio Coldebella hit a short jumper to give Milano a 67-53 margin after 30 minutes.
Davor Kus hit a three to get Cibona within 67-56, but Shumpert stole a ball to feed Calabria for an easy layup which restored a 13-point lead, 69-56, for Milano. Shumpert fired in a mid-range jumper while Bulleri copied him soon after that and added one from downtown against Cibona's 2-3 zone defense to boost the hosts' margin to 76-58. Grant and Blair kept dominating in the middle, allowing Milano to seal the outcome. Grant followed a layup with a long jumper, while Blair took over with a tip-in which made it a 20-point game, 82-62, already in the final minute, allowing all Milano fans in the standings that their team is back on track to keep their Euroleague dreams alive.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006