Skipper survived a scare on its home floor in Bologna by coming from behind to knock off Pau-Orthez 87-81 in Group E on Wednesday after a battle that went back and forth through all 40 minutes. Skipper improved to 2-0 in Group E, while Pau is still awaiting its first Top 16 victory after two games. Carlos Delfino scored 17 points, all in the second half, to lead Skipper's balanced scoring column. AJ Guyton finished with 16 points in 18 minutes, while Matjaz Smodis scored 15 and Gianluca Basile had 13. Florent Pietrus dominated around the basket for Pau, scoring 22 points on 7 of 10 two-point shots and grabbing 13 boards. Laurent Foirest scored 15 points, including all 3 of his three-point attempts, and Cyril Julian was Pau's only other scorer in double figures with 12 points.
Skipper got off to a 6-0 start thanks to its aggressive defense. On the other end, Pau had trouble stopping Skipper's penetration, so Basile's dish to Smodis put Skipper ahead 12-4 after nearly 4 minutes of play. Foirest knocked down Pau's first triple of the game, but Basile matched that, giving Skipper a 15-7 edge. Smodis supplied Skipper's biggest lead, 17-7, but Pau bounced back after calling a timeout. The guests reeled off 10 straight points, knotting the game at 17-17 on a Pietrus free throw. Skipper managed just 4 points over the final 3 minutes and Pau used a 0-6 partial to take a 21-24 advantage after one quarter.
Foirest gave Pau its biggest lead so far, 21-27, on a triple to open the second quarter, but Skipper's subs Guyton and Erazem Lorbek scored Skipper's next 9 points, tying the game at 30-30. Pietrus continued to give Skipper trouble around the basket, however, scoring 5 points of a 0-7 Pau run that gave the visitors a 30-37 edge in the 16th minute. Marco Belinelli and Jeryl Sasser exchanged triples after a Skipper timeout, but the hosts pulled within 39-40 after three straight baskets by Guyton, Van den Spiegel and Mancinelli. Skipper's lineup of substitutes couldn't get any closer, as Frederic Fauthoux's triple put Pau back in control as the guests went into the half with a 42-45 lead.
Skipper's swarming defense denied Pau opportunities to score in the opening minutes of the second half. Skipper took back the lead, 51-50, after Guyton drilled his second triple of the third quarter. Pietrus continued to dominate, however, finding open lanes and scoring 5 points in the first 4 minute of the half. Skipper's effective shooting from long range pulled them to within 54-55 on Milos Vujanic's second triple of the quarter, but Pietrus answered again, drawing Smodis's third foul and then making 2 free throws. Koko Archibong scored to put Pau ahead 54-59, but Smodis did not back down, scoring 4 straight points to keep Skipper close. With Skipper paying close attention to Pietrus, Julian picked up the scoring load for Pau, nailing 6 points in the final 2 minutes of the quarter, giving Pau a 62-65 edge going into the final quarter
After drilling a triple to close the third quarter, Delfino started the fourth by taking a Pozzecco feed on the fastbreak and scoring to pull Skipper to within 64-65. Pau missed 6 straight shots and turned the ball over 3 times in the next several minutes. Pau finally called a timeout after Delfino scored again to put Skipper up 69-65 with just over 4 minutes to play. Pau snapped out of its shooting slump with a vengance, running off a 2-9 run keyed by Foirest and Pietrus, and taking back the lead at 72-74 after Dragan Lukovski made a three-point play following Delfino's second consecutive turnover. Skipper wasn't finished, however. Delfino made up for his mistakes with a game-tying dunk assisted by Basile and the next time down the court Basile drained a huge triple that gave the hosts a 79-76 edge with just over 1 minute left. Skipper forced Lukovski into a turnover on Pau's next possession and after Gianmarco Pozzecco drained 2 free throws, Skipper had an 81-76 edge and its public was whipped into a frenzy. The final minute turned into a free throw shooting contest and Skipper made 6 of 8 to close out an 87-81 victory.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004