Benetton did what it had to do tonight to claim first place in Group A with its 89-81 victory over visiting Olympiakos. Benetton claimed the top position with the impressive win at home coupled with Efes Pilsen's two-point upset over Maccabi in Tel Aviv which dropped the Israelis into second place. With the win, the Italians improve to 11-3, good enough for the best record in the group and the second best in the entire league. Benetton will now take on Barcelona, and two other Italian teams, Skipper Bologna and Scavolini, in Group E of the Top 16. Olympiakos falls to 10-4 with the loss and drops to third place in the group as it loses the head-to-head tiebreaker with Maccabi. It joins fellow Greeks Panathinaikos and AEK, along with Union Olimpija of Slovenia, in Group G in the next phase of the Euroleague competition. Five Benetton players went in double figures: Tyus Edney 22, Jorge Garbajosa 19, Bostjan Nachbar 12, Sergei Chikalkin 15 and Marcelo Nicola 10. While for the Greeks, Alphonso Ford posted 28 points, Theodore Papaloukas and James Forrest both had 16, and Stephane Risacher with 10.
Benetton opened fire immediately with three long distance shots and built an 11-2 advantage after two and half minutes. The duo of Ford and Forrest tried to bring their team back but Jorge Garbajosa was unstoppable. He hit his second three-pointer and extended Benetton's lead to 19-8 forcing Slobodan Subotic to call a timeout. Olympiakos tried to stop the home team by aligning a 2-3 zone defense but Joge Garbajosa was on fire and netted his twelfth point of the period which gave a 29-16 advantage to Benetton. The first quarter ended at 31-21 with a final bucket by James Forrest who was the highest contributor for the Greeks posting 11 points.
In the first three and half minutes of the second period only Mario Stojic scored for Benetton while Alphonso Ford drew two charges at the other end. Coach Subotic gambled and kept him on the floor and it paid off as he posted two straight baskets and brought the score to 35-25 in the middle of the period. After shooting an amazing 73% from the field in the first period, Benetton Traviso cooled off but Olympiakos still couldn't find an easy way to score. After a technical foul to coach Subotic for protesting the referees¿ call, Benetton improved their lead to 40-27 with three minutes till the break. Olympiakos came back with a hot Alphonso Ford who had already posted 11 points and brought it to 46-39. Tyus Edney however answered right back with five quick points and they went into the locker rooms with the home team leading 51-42.
Olympiakos out-scored Benetton 0-6 in the first three minutes after the break and became a danger, 51-48, but Tyus Edney posted two quick buckets and Benetton breathed a sigh of relief. The game was still balanced and Olympiakos worked well on defense while Treviso didn¿t have its usual speed and movement of the ball on offense. Benetton scored just six points in the first six and a half minutes, a big difference from their first ten minutes of the game. Stopping Alphonso Ford was very hard for Mario Stojic and the Euroleague leading scorer kept his team close scoring his 22nd point of the night and bringing the score to 62-58. On Benetton's side, Tyus Edney was the leading scorer. He posted 10 of his team's 15 points in the period and kept Benetton ahead, 66-60 after thirty minutes.
In th fourth, Jorge Garbajosa took control of the game again with yet another three-pointer after popping off a screen which extended the white-greens' advantage to 71-60. Marcelo Nicola then followed his example with another long distance shot that made it 76-62 for the home team, but the game wasn¿t finished quite yet. Theodoros Papalaoukas' two baskets as he drove to the rim helped his team stay in the match. The game turned into a grudge match as both teams began to dive on the floor for every loose ball, but Sergey Chikalkin and Bostjan Nachbar put the game on ice by giving Benetton a 15-point lead, 81-66, with just three minutes to go. After Tyus Edney's seventh turnover, the home team controlled the rest of the game but there was still a little time for spectacular plays before the 89-81 final.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002