Benetton alone is undefeated in Group A through three games after it turned back Climamio Bologna 94-84 at home in Treviso in an all-Italian showdown on Thursday. Benetton improved to 3-0 and took over first place in the group standings, while Climamio dropped to 1-2. Drew Nicholas led the winners with 26 points on 8-for-13 shooting and 6 of 7 free throws. Petar Popovic added 15 points, Nikos Zisis shined with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, while Marcus Goree and Matteo Soragna each had 12 points for Benetton. For Climamio, Erazem Lorbek had 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, Marco Belinelli added 16 on 5 of 6 triples. Sani Becirovic scored 12 points, Travis Watson 11 and Dalibor Bagaric 10 for the guests. Benetton used a 11-2 run early in the game to get a 22-15 lead after 10 minutes, and even when Climamio cut its deficit to 37-34 at halftime, Goree and Uros Slokar combined 6 points in a 12-1 run which allowed the hosts to preserve the lead for good.
Climamio started by feeding big men and got the first bucket from Lorbek before setting up its 2-3 zone on defense. Benetton faced it confidently, with Nicholas hitting a corner triple and Popovic a pair of inside buckets to take a 7-2 edge. After Lorbek and Nicholas traded jumpers, Matteo Soragna’s no-look pass found Popovic for an easy layup and Nicholas seized another triple opportunity to pump the lead to 8 points, 14-6, midway through the quarter. Climamio kept feeding Bagaric but his hooks came up short and coach Jasmin Repesa called a triple substitution. New entry Travis Watson responded with a nice move but Nicholas scored from the line and Zisis ignited a 6-0 run capped by a reverse layup from Goree for Benetton's highest lead yet, 22-10 in minute 9. Climamio minimized the damage with Sani Becirovic, whose 5 points in a row got the guests within 22-15 at the first break.
Watson kept Climamio's running to start the second quarter at 22-17. Marco Mordente’s pair of foul shots broke the drought for Benetton and Nicholas drained another triple to lift the lead to 26-19. Belinelli's points came from the foul line but then he fouled Nicholas, whose free throws made it 28-21. A triple from Nate Green trimmed the gap for the guests but Nicholas was unstoppable now and reached 19 points himself with an impressive fade away jumper. Trailing 32-24 midway through the quarter, Climamio's response started with a dunk and a turnaround shot by Tomas Ress. After Andrea Bargnani fed Popovic for 36-28, Climamio mounted a 0-5 closing run on a jumper by Lorbek and a Belinelli three-pointer to narrow the difference to 37-34 at halftime.
Goree's three-pointer capped a 7-2 run to open the second half for the hosts, who now led 44-35. Then it became a three-point contest as the teams exchanged 6 straight triples. Nicholas closed the flurry with Benetton still in charge, 53-44. Slokar scored inside to push the lead into double digits, but Belinelli nailed another big shot to make it 55-48. Watson caught fire with 5 points in a row as Climamio came within a single basket, 55-53, but Slokar replied with a later three-pointer. Good ball circulation now got Goree open for another three-pointer, Benetton’s sixth in the quarter, as the lead reached 65-55. And Benetton wasn't done, as Slokar and Goree dunked to end a 12-1 run with a 69-58 scoreboard after 30 minutes.
The teams traded 5-0 runs to enter the final quarter but Climamio had the best spark as Lorbek scored a fake-and-jump shot to keep the guests close, 74-67. A flagrant foul by Kiwane Garris on Marco Mordente only cost Climamio one but after the guests failed to capitalize, Soragna made them pay with 5 straight points to widen the gap to 12, 82-70. Belinelli and Garris rattled intriples to boost Climamio within 7 again, 83-76, with 3 minutes left, but Mordente and Popovic were perfect at free throws to widen Benetton's lead to 87-76. Belinelli - who else? - nailed a three-pointer and Lorbek added free throws to cut the edge to 6 points, 87-81. But Soragna had ice in the hands as he scored a clutch triple from the corner to make it 90-81 with 1:06. Benetton could now enjoy its third win as Zisis and Nicholas hit baskets on the way to a 94-84 final
Thursday, November 17, 2005