Pau-Orthez cemented its best Euroleague start in four seasons by rocking to an 84-96 overtime road victory against Eldo Napoli in Group C on Thursday. Pau scored the last 12 points in overtime to finally finish off the hosts, who had forced the extra period with a last-second fourth-quarter layup by Richard Rocca. Clint Harrison led the winners with 22 points, including the three-point play in OT that settled all doubts. Joining him in double figures were Michael Wright with 18 points, Ricardo Greer with 16, and Britton Johnsen and Aaron Miles with 12 each. Napoli had just as many standouts, including two with double-doubles: Rocca with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Ansu Sesay with 14 and 10. Tierre Brown led Napoli with 18 points, while Jeff Trepagnier chipped in 14 and Matteo Malaventura 11.
Johnsen opened the scoring with a three-pointer for Pau, which proceeded to race to a 0-9 start that ended with another triple, by Xane D'Almeida. Napoli woke folllowing a timeout to play more focused defense while Trepagnier scored his team's first 5 points and registered a big block on Thierry Rupert. James Larranaga kept Napoli going, reducing the gap to 9-12, but D'Almeida answered from the low post before a Alessandro Cittadini's dunk pleased the crowd. Still, Pau stayed in control as Wright and Greer added 4 points apiece late in the quarter to give the visitors a 16-22 advantage after 10 minutes.
Napoli's newest player, Tyrone Ellis, started the second quarter but missed a bomb that Greer answered at the other end to send Pau up by double digits. Malaventura's second three-pointer sparked Napoli's response, a 11-3 run that Trepagnier finished with a jumper and a three-point play to make it 28-29. Johnsen didn't miss the chance to reply with a smooth three-point shot to which Harrison added a layup to make it 38-34. It was Pau's run now, as Rupert's layup and Johnsen's free throws lengthened it before Harrison struck from downtown to restore the double-digit lead, 28-41. Trepagnier stopped the slide for Napoli, but now got help from Sesay, who made his team's first triple, and Rocca, whose put-back of an offensive rebound cut the difference to 35-41 at the break.
Wright and Miles started the second half in style for Pau while Trapagnier ended a fastbreack with a dunk. Pau seemed to have some difficulties now, while Brown woke up with a layup and an assist for Sesay, bringing Napoli within 43-45. But Pau wasn't ready to give up the lead. Harrison's free throws and a sweet downtwon shot by Michael Bauer re-opened the visitors' margin. Napoli was insistent, however, as Rocca scored a layup and Sesay another tirple to finally vault the hosts in front, 55-54. The game was either team's now, and Brown kept the hosts rising with free throws while Pau struggled against Napoli's full-court defense. Brown's final touch of the quarter, a triple, left Napoli holding 60-55 lead after 30 minutes.
Malaventura struck with a bomb to open the fourth quarter and soon Sesay stole and scored to make it 67-59, forcing Pau to take a timeout. Pau's attack had slowed, but now Johnsen got a couple free throws and Miles drilled from the arc to cut the difference to 67-64. Mistakes bothered both sides now until Rocca did his thing on the offensive boards for 2 points and Harrison answered with a fastbreak. It took another bomb by Miles to make it 69-73 to cap an 11-2 run for Pau. With 90 seconds left, Larranaga popped a two-pointer which Brown followed with a downtown strike to seize a new lead for Napoli, 74-73 with a minute left. Wright hit 2 free throws to put Pau back ahead, then Harrison, Brown and Greer each made 1 of 2 to leave the visitors ahead 75-77 with 7 seconds left. That was a good number for Napoli, however, as Rocca made the game-tying shot inside to send the teams to OT all even at 77-77.
Rocca started with a defensive rebound and the first 2 points in overtime for Napoli, but Greer's free throw and a basket by Miles in the low post put Pau up again. It remained a back and fourth situation until Sesay dropped back an offensive rebound to forge an 84-84 tie. Miles proved unstoppable now, however, and in a few seconds gave Pau 4 points in row and an 84-88 lead. With 37 seconds left, a Napoli turnover led to Harrison scoring a three-point play off a fastbreak to seal the deal and lift Pau among the top teams in Group C.
Thursday, November 23, 2006