Pau-Orthez treated its home fans to the club's first Top 16 victory in almost three years and kept its hopes alive for a run at the Quarterfinal Playoffs by downing visiting Lottomatica Roma 74-69 on Wednesday in Group D. That result left both teams at 1-3, just a victory behind second-place Maccabi Tel Aviv (2-2), a loser on the road at Tau Ceramica, which clinched first place in the group. Maccabi, Pau and Roma will now fight over the last two weeks of the Top 16 for second place and passage to the next round. Pau had to fight Roma to the finish for the victory, but got 8 fourth-quarter points from Cedric Ferchaud and 4 in the final minute between Michael Wright and Melvin Sanders to hold on. Sanders led all scorers with 17 points, while Wright added 15, Ferchaud 14 and Miles 11 for the winners. Ricardo Greer didn't score but dished 10 assists and pulled a team-high 8 rebounds for Pau. Roma got 14 points each from Dejan Bodiroga and Roberto Chiacig, who also grabbed 11 rebounds. Mire Chatman added 11 points and Luca Garri 10 for Roma, which did not have head coach Jasmin Repesa due to health problems. Pau played without start C.C. Harrison, who was injured.
Both teams went inside to get going, as Wright and Ian Mahimni of Pau and Roma newcomer Chiacig scored all the points in an early 5-5 tie. Sanders got going then, Mahinmi dunked and Miles completed a three-point layup-plus-free throw as Pau took the first sizeable lead at 12-6. After Chatman scored his own three-point play for Roma, Sanders hit back with a triple and free throws, to which Miles added another layup for the first double-digit advantage, 19-9. Sanders added a basket to the lead before Bodiroga picked up Roma with 4 points in a row. He, Garri and Jon Stefansson finished a 2-10 run that pulled the guests to within 23-19 as the first quarter closed.
Britton Johnsen and Ferchaud, with a triple, kept Pau a step ahead early in the second uqarter, but Bodiroga and Garri followed them with points of their own. Pau's defense then took over for a couple minutes in which Wright added a pair of inside baskets to make it 33-25. Garri saved Roma this time with back-to-back shots to which Chatman soon added a triple that had the guests as close as 35-33. Sanders nailed a triple for Pau now, and when free throws by Chatman and Bodiroga forged a 38-38 tie, he broke it with another shot from the arc to end the half with the hosts holding onto a 41-38 lead.
Roma came out smoking from the break, feeding Chiacig for a pair of inside baskets before Chatman exploded from downtown to finish a 0-7 burst with the guests taking a 41-45 lead. Xane D'Almeida brought Pau back to life with a jump shot and free throw and Miles drove for a go-ahead layup at 46-45. Pau's defensive stand ended with David Hawkins taking back the lead for Roma with a triple. Next, Wright did the same, putting Pau back in front 49-48 with a three-point play. The lead went back and forth as Chiacig, Johnsen and Garri scored. Johnsen then tied it 52-52 on a free throw before Ferchaud had the last word of the third quarter with a buzzer-beating triple that left Pau in front, 55-52.
The scoreboard tug of war continued into the fourth quarter, with Alex Righetti tying it 57-57 from the arc and Ferchaud answering the same way for Pau. A couple minutes passed in which only a free throw fell before the teams started alternating baskets again. The tension rose as Stefansson with a jumper and Chiacig a layup cut the difference to 63-62. Miles and Ferchaud, again from long-distance, pulled the hosts ahead again by 68-62, but Bodiroga and Hawkins scored the next 5 points to make it 68-67 with just 2 minutes left. The key basket came next, a jumper off the hand of Ferchaud, this time from two-point distance. Fouls put Hawkins and Wright on the free throw line, where both were perfect for a 72-69 score in the final minute. Miles stole, got fouled and missed what seemed like all-important free throws until he made up for it with a driving layup that proved enough for Pau's first Top 16 win and a whole new situation in Group D.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007