Climamio threw its hat back into the Top 16 race in Group A when it downed visiting Le Mans 83-71 at home in Bologna, Italy. Climamio improved to 2-6 with the victory, which puts it within a victory of all-important fifth place with six games to play. Le Mans dropped to 3-5 and will be tied with at least Efes Pilsen or Prokom for fifth place after those two teams play on Thursday. After a back-and-forth first half, Climamio slowly pulled away in the third quarter and never let Le Mans closer than 3 points early in the fourth. What's more, by scoring 5 points in the final 16 seconds, including an over-the-backboard buzzer-beater by David Bluthenthal to end the game, Climamio eclipsed the margin of Le Mans's win in their first meeting - just in case tiebreakers are needed between them later. Bluthenthal and Tyus Edney led the winners with 20 points each. James Thomas ruled inside for 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Stefano Mancinelli added 13 points for the winners. Le Mans got 18 points from Kenny Gregory and 16 from Sandro Nicevic but suffered 19 turnovers in the game.
Climamio tried to stamp its mark on the game early by posting a 7-0 opening run in 1 minute, 10 second thanks to buckets by Thomas and Mancinelli plus a three-pointer by Marco Belinelli. Nicevic, who came in early for Alain Koffi, got Le Mans going with a nice move before Yannick Bokolo drove the lane to make it 7-4 after 4 minutes. Climamio's defense lacked aggressiveness now as Le Mans drove easily to the rim, with Pape-Philippe Amagou scoring 6 points in 2 minutes to put the guests in charge, 11-12. Climamio coach Ergin Ataman called timeout to show his anger by replacing all five players on the court. But with replacements Robert Fultz, Daniele Cavaliero, Preston Shumpert, Vasco Evtimov and Dan Gay, neither did Climamio get the momentum back as Le Mans pushed ahead 11-16 after Nicevic scored on a give-and-go pass and Campbell added foul shots. Bluthenthal's layup and Thomas scoring on an offensive rebound could only get Climamio as close as 15-18 after 10 minutes.
As in the first, Climamio opened the second quarter with another 7-0 run to go ahead 22-18 as Edney hit a pull-up jumper and free throws. Gregory unlocked the basked for Le Mans with a drive and a fallaway jumper that put the visitors back in front, 22-23, midway through the quarter. After Edney scored his seventh point for Climamio, Koffi dunked on a pick-and-roll play that Gregory followed with free throws to move the guests ahead again, 24-27. Exploiting an unsportsmanlike foul called against Bokolo, Climamio built up a 6-0 run that brought it a new lead, 30-27, with Edney scoring free throws and Thomas hitting from inside. Bokolo responded by driving easily to score and then feeding Nicevic for a jumper and another lead change, 31-32. But Climamio had the last spark of the quarter as Edney scored again and Thomas converted his fourth offensive rebound into free throws to fix a 34-31 score in favor of the hosts at halftime.
Campbell and Nicevic hit inside baskets for Le Mans to counter another by Thomas at the start of the third quarter, but when Bluthenthal landed a corner triple, Climamio still led by 39-35. Mancinelli scored 4 consecutive points to widen the difference to 43-37 before Le Mans started feeding Nicevic for a pair of jumpers to revive the guests. A three-pointer by Daniele Cavaliero gave the hosts plenty of breathing space at 48-41, but Le Mans didn’t wait to respond as Bokolo drove the lane and Gregory hit a long jumper to pull their team within 3 points, 48-45. Another offensive board put back by Thomas broke the visitors' run while Mancinelli dished an amazing no-look pass that Bluthenthal converted into a bucket-and-free throw for Climamio's highest lead yet, 53-45. Le Mans wouldn't back down, and used the final minute to get free throws from Nicevic and a jumper from Bogavac to fix a 55-49 scoreboard after three quarters.
After Bluthenthal sent Climamio up 57-49 to begin the fourth quarter, Tyson Wheeler put Le Mans on his shoulders by landing back-to-back triples to make it 59-56. Edney replied for Climamio before Bluthenthal dove for a loose ball and magically fed Mancinelli for a layup that boosted the hosts to a 65-58 edge. Le Mans stayed close as Campbell scored free throws and Gregory hit a step-back jumper to make it 68-62. Edney pulled up for another jumper but soon committed a turnover and following unsportsmanlike foul against Wheeler, who hit the free throw but missed a triple attempt. Still, after a defensive stop, Le Mans, closed within 70-65. But while the guests were giving their maximum effort, Climamio flew away. A pair of free throws by Bluthenthal and a Shumpert steal sent the hosts up 74-65. Soon, Edney fed Thomas for a lone dunk and Bluthenthal scored a layup as the Climamio lead hit double digits, 78-67. Conscious of future tie possiblities in the standings, both teams were watching the point difference now and Le Mans no doubt felt safe when Gregory made it 78-71 with 16 second left. But then Edney scored a three-pointer, Shumpert stole the Le Mans throw-in pass and Bluthenthal hit an incredible jumper from behind the basket to fix a 83-71 final score, one point better than when Le Mans won their opening game of the season.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006