GHP Bamberg took an important step forwards in its race to reach the Top 16 in Group A by downing Benetton Treviso 92-85 at home on Thursday night on an outstanding perfomance by Spencer Nelson. Before 8,500 charged-up home fans, Bamberg improved to 4-4 and fifth place in the Group C standings. Meanwhile, Benetton dropped to 5-3, tied with Tau Ceramica and Climamio Bologna for second place. Nelson led the winners with a monster double-double of 23 points and a Euroleague-season high 20 rebounds, 10 of them on offense. He also dished 7 assists and collected 3 steals. Demond Mallet added 20 points, Robert Garrett 17 and Derrick Phelps 10 for the winners. Drew Nicholas led Benetton with 28 points on 6 of 9 triples. Ramunas Siskauskas added 19 and Petar Popovic 18 on 8-for-10 shooting for the guests. Nelson is just the second Euroleague player, after Mirsad Turkcan, to score 20 or more points and take 20 or more rebounds in a game. Benetton led 42-49 at halftime, but Nelson had 12 points and 7 rebounds in the final period to rally Bamberg to victory.
Before a soldout crowd of 8,500 at Nurnberg Arena, Chris Ensminger opened the scoring for Bamberg with a free throw but baskets by Popovic triggered a 0-8 run by Benetton and a timeout by the hosts. Nicholas's three-pointer made it 1-12 before Mallet finally made Bamberg's first shot. Siskauskas hit free throws to extend the lead to 3-16, but then Mallet scored 8 straight points - including 2 triples - and Nelson got a three-point play as Bamberg used an 11-3 run to get within 14-19. After a Benetton coach timeout, Popovic scored hit over Uvis Helmanis before Nicholas hit his second triple to boost the hosts in front, 15-24 after 10 minutes.
Helmanis was whistled for a flagrant foul with an elbow to Slokar to start the second quarter. Benetton made Bamberg pay as Popovic followed Slokar's free throws with a basket that extended the lead to 15-28. Garrett came off Bamberg's bench to score 5 straight points to trim the deficit to eight. But Siskauskas shook free for an open three-pointer, and Matteo Soragna drove for a layup to restore a 13-points Benetton margin, 20-33. After another timeout, Bamberg reacted well as Garrett and Phelps buried three-pointers and Garrett drove to make it 30-35. Marcus Goree's layup pushed the lead back up to 33-41. Nicholas hit his third shot from the arc and Slokar free throws to make it 39-46. Nicholas had another jumper left in him before the half could end with Benetton in charge, 42-49.
Bamberg returned much more concentrated as Mallet opened the third quarter with a driving layup. Popovic continued to shine, going over Nelson for a 44-51 Benetton advantage before Mallet's long jumper started a 12-2 go-ahead run for the hosts. He and Phelps buried back-to-back triples to vault Bamberg in front 56-53 midway through the quarter. Siskauskas twice hit layups to put Benetton back on top, and on the second one, Phelps had to be helped to the locker room after colliding with Garrett. Soon, after Soragna buried a three-pointer, Garrett answered in kind to put Bamberg back up, 65-62. Slokar and Nicholas combined for 3 free throws and Marco Mordente buried a three-pointer at the buzzer for his first basket as Benetton guarded a 65-68 advantage into the final frame.
Bamberg made its move early in the fourth quarter, with Helmanis knocking down a three-pointer and Nelson draining a long jumper and a free throw for a new 71-68 lead. Nicholas's fourth three-pointer tied it 73-73 with 8 minutes left, and then the patient Benetton offense found Siskauskas open for a go-ahead three-pointer. But Bamberg moved the ball well, too, and found Helmanis for another triple of his own and a 78-77 lead with just over 4 minutes left. After Nicholas drained yet another three-pointer, Nelson powered home an offensive rebound to even the score again, 80-80 in what was already a thriller. Nelson took over the game now, hitting free throws; saving a loose ball and dishing to Rick Stafford whose triple with 43 seconds remaining made it 87-82. Nelson then grabbed a rebound and drove the length of the court for a layup and free throw that made it 90-82 and left no doubt that Bamberg would be the surprise of Group A heading into 2006.
Thursday, December 22, 2005