One of the last teams to advance to the Top 16 was also the first one to get a win in Group D, as a fully reloaded Lottomatica Roma overcame a major injury to down Elan Bernais Pau-Orthez 78-68 in the Italian capital on Wednesday night. Roma was without star forward Dejan Bodiroga, who broke a finger, but had three new players in uniform – Jon Stefansson, Roberto Gabini and Roberto Chiacig. Alex Righetti led the winners with 16 points. David Hawkins added 15, Mire Chatman had 12 and Stefansson scored 11 in hie Euroleague debut. Ognjen Askrabic was big in the paint, with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. Britton Johnsen had 16 points for Pau, while Michael Wright and Melvin Sanders added 10 apiece. Roma used outstanding defense to dominate the game early and Chatman, Hawkins and Askrabic gave Roma a 49-31 lead early in the third quarter. Luca Garri was the key factor in Roma's aggressive defense, as his team held a 65-50 lead with 9 minutes to go. Johnsen and Wright led the Pau comeback, as the visitors closed to within 72-68 in the final minute, but failed to complete the comeback.
Daniele Cinciarini got Roma going with a layup, igniting a 10-0 opening run during which Hawkins followed a corner triple with a wild dunk to cause Pau to call an early timeout. The visitors went scoreless for nearly 3 minutes before Wright stepped up with a jump hook, but Cinciarini answered from downtown and Askrabic scored inside for a 15-2 Roma lead. Sanders tried to wake Pau up with a layup off a steal and Johnsen added a triple to get the guests within 17-8. Roma switched to a zone defense, while Garri buried a baseline jumper and Chatman dunked it for a 21-10 lead. Johnsen continued to pace Pau with a three-point play and Sanders added a five-meter jumper to get the visitors closer, 23-16. Free throws by Wright and Righetti, as well as a put-back basket by Ian Mahinmi, fixed the score at 25-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Pau tried a zone defense early in the second quarter, while Sanders threw down a slam at the other end to get Pau even closer. Righetti answered with a three-pointer and Pau soon went back to man-to-man defense, Stefansson added another one from downtown for a 31-21 Roma margin. Aaron Miles joined the three-point festival, but Askrabic quickly answered with a layup and Stefansson added a left-handed basket in penetration to keep Roma ahead, 35-26. Pau was still struggling to score, not finding any easy options in offense, but Roma also went scoreless for 2 minutes until Askrabic stepped up with a third-chance layup. Righetti nailed a corner three-pointer and Pau called timeout at 40-28. Garri hit free throws as Pau went scoreless for almost 3 minutes until Cedric Ferchaud buried one from downtown to get the guests within 42-31 at halftime.
Hawkins shined with a three-pointer right after the break and soon added a driving layup during a 7-0 run that Cinciarini capped with a fastbreak basket to give Roma its biggest lead yet, 49-31. Pau called timeout and switched back to zone defense and soon Sanders found a fastbreak layup. Cinciarini fed Chatman for an easy basket, but Johnsen dunked it at the other end and C.C. Harrison added a put-back basket. Roma stayed aggressive on defense as Garri hit free throws to keep Roma far ahead, 53-37. Ferchaud tried to ignite a Pau comeback with a three-pointer from the corner, highlighting a 0-6 run that Xane D'Almeida capped with foul shots. Righetti rescued Roma, but Wright scored inside and D'Almeida added a fast break layup to get Pau even closer, 55-47. Alessandro Tonolli stepped up with a tip-in, but Ricardo Greer answered from downtown. However Righetti and Stefansson allowed Roma to restore a double-digit lead, 60-50, after three quarters.
Chatman stole the ball at midcourt steal and scored a three-point play early in the final period. Stefansson added a driving layup to make it a 15-point game, 65-50. Johnsen tried to change things with a jumper, but Righetti bettered him with a reverse layup and the free throw that came with it. Sanders scored inside and Wright added a turnaround jumper, as Pau improved its defense in crunch time. Ferchaud fired in his third triple to get the guests within single digits, 68-60, with 4 minutes to go. Lottomatica kept finding it hard to score and Miles made a free throw as Pau clawed its way back. Roma called timeout and Hawkins then scored in penetration, but Johnsen answered from downtown and Harrison hit free throws for a 72-68 Pau deficit with 48 seconds to go. Stefansson sealed the outcome with a layup that rounded his big game and gave Roma reasons to celebrate the start to Group D.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007