Although out of the Top 16, Adecco Estudiantes found an important extra victory before exiting the competition when it downed arch-rival Real Madrid 90-84 in Group A on Thursday at the arena both teams share, Palacio Vistalegre. Estudiantes controlled a close game until the third quarter, when triples by Nikola Loncar and Sergio Rodriguez broke it open for the hosts. The win lifts Estudiantes to a record of 4-9, while Real Madrid, already in the Top 16, dropped to 7-6 and will now finish fourth. The hosts were led by Ruben Garces with 19 points, surprise starter Carlos Suarez with 15 points and Nikola Loncar with 14. For Real Madrid, Mickael Gelabale led the way with 19 points. Felipe Reyes, playing against his former team, added 16 and 9 rebounds while Axel Hervelle blasted 14 behind 4 triples. Madrid rested leading scorers Louis Bullock and Alberto Herreros for the whole game.
Gelabale finished an alley-oop pass by Elmer Bennett to open the scoring but a triple by Iker Iturbe put Estudiantes ahead for the first time, 5-4. Suarez scored his fourth point to maintain that gap, but soon Reyes put Madrid ahead with free throws after his offensive rebound, 10-11. Suarez scored, drew a foul but missed the free throw, and Garces cashed in on the offensive rebound to make it 15-11. Madrid came back within a point, but Suarez scored again to make it 18-15 and Andres Miso made free throws to maintain a 20-17 Estudiantes edge after 10 minutes. Suarez was up to 8 points for Estudiantes.
Garces dunked to start the second quarter, and as Mario Stojic and Nikola Loncar traded triples, Estudiantes stayed ahead 25-20. Gelabale stepped up again to score for Madrid, but Estudiantes looked constantly to the paint for points or fouls in going up 29-22. Andrae Patterson nailed a triple for the first double-digit lead, 32-22, before Hervelle broke Madrid's scoring drought with free throws. Garces finished a second assist from Loncar on the quarter, before Pat Burke and Stojic blasted 9 straight points to bring Madrid within 36-33. Rodriguez made a steal and fastbreak layup for Estudiantes, but Burke and Reyes cut the Estudiantes advantage to 42-39 by halftime.
Elmer Bennett's triple to open the second half tied for Madrid, 42-42, but Miso got the lead again for Estudiantes with a put-back. Both sides traded fast baskets but Garces kept the momentum with his team by dunking and scoring a free throw on Bennett's fourth foul that made it 52-46. Burke scored on the 24-second clock, but Estudiantes had less problems on offense. Suarez came back and put back an offensive rebound for his 10th point and a 58-53 score. Reyes scored 4 in a row for Madrid, but Loncar blasted a triple and Suarez another for Estudiantes. Only a buzzer-beater from downtown by Mous Sonko kept Madrid within 64-58 of Estudiantes after 30 minutes.
Estudiantes opened the last quarter with Suarez hitting a jumper and Rafa Vidaurreta a fastbreak dunk-plus-free throw to boost the lead over 10 points, to 69-58. Reyes was still challenging his old team with good moves underneath and Gelabale added 2 new triples to return the deficit to single digits. Hervelle hit Madrid's third triple in as many plays for 76-71 scoreboard in minute 36, but Rodriguez rained a new three-pointer to keep Estudiantes safe at 79-71. Madrid entered the last 3 minutes trailing 79-74, but Miso and Iturbe hit triples less than 10 seconds apart to let Estudiantes pull away again to a victory that proved a fine last-chance gift for its fans.
Thursday, February 3, 2005