Benetton Treviso continued its climb out of the bottom of Group C with an 80-59 home win on Wednesday against Adecco Asvel that actually wasn't as close as the score. Benetton, now 2-2, led at halftime 41-14 and seemed to want to match the defensive records being set around the league recently. But Benetton showed admirable mercy in the last quarter and set its sights on bigger dates in the future. Maurice Evans and Uros Slokar led the winners with 14 points each while Massimo Bulleri and Jorge Garbajosa chipped in 11. Asvel, whose record drops to 1-3, can only hope that its 31-point final quarter puts and end to the scoring slump that followed it to Treviso. In the end, Shawnta Rogers had 13 points for Asvel, Sasha Giffa 11 and Derek Hood 10. A total of 23 turnovers against Benetton's ball-hawking defense was the key stat, as Hood helped Asvel draw even on the boards with 15 rebounds himself.
The night actually started out normally for Asvel. Rogers put the guests on his shoulders by scoring all of Asvel's points in a 5-5 tie after 3 minutes. The problem was that when Rogers stopped scoring, no one else on Asvel could. Benetton soon started seeing substitutes of the stature of Denis Marconato and Massimo Bulleri hit the floor and their help gave the hosts an 8-0 run to a 13-5 lead after 7 minutes. Meanwhile the minutes kept passing without an Asvel basket as Benetton's defense was fully concentrated on stopping any route to the basket. Seven long minutes passed until - who else? - Rogers found another basket, 20 seconds before the end of the quarter. It was the play of the game for Asvel, really, as the 1.61-meter guard, one of the shortest players in Europe, put back an offensive rebound! It was 13-7 after 10 minutes, but that narrow difference was explained by Benetton's 1-for-10 three-point shooting.
The hosts' shots started dropping in the second quarter. Nicola was the first to come unstuck, then Bulleri fired from downtown and the Benetton advantage rose to 26-11 in the 14th minutes. That still gave little clue to the troubles Asvel had coming, or depending on the viewpoint, the defense Benetton was ready to play now. Asvel lost a lot af balls. Though Rogers was setting up his teammates, Karim Souchu found himself blanketed by Riccardo Pittis, Makan Dioumassi by Evans and Tyus Edney, Harold Mrazek by Bulleri, and so on. Over the 6 minutes before halftime, Asvel managed only 3 more points, another total of 7 for the quarter. As such, Benetton went to the break no doubt considering its job already done with 41-14 on the scoreboard.
They were two teams working on different subjects in the second half. Rogers kept carrying Asvel as best he could after halftime, getting help now from Dioumassi at times. But Benetton found it easy to run, score and still make coach Ettore Messina happy with continued high concentration on defense. Indeed, it looked as though a new record was going to be set at Asvel's expense as the scoreboard read 60-26 in the 29th minute. As it turned out, that would be Benetton's highest lead, and high enough it was to already put the win in the books for Benetton. Messina called for mercy after that and the fourth quarter was devoted to showtime only. The Asvel players were able to show something now, but the continued absence of center Robert Guylas was evident even as the points started falling to make up the final 10 minutes. Messina emptied his bench and gave the kids there a chance to taste a Euroleague game, while Asvel left wondering when it would get back on track to taste a Euroleague victory again.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003