Benetton stepped strong into the Group G race when it outgunned visiting Dynamo Moscow 74-55 at home in Treviso, Italy on Wednesday. Both teams are now 1-1, behind undefeated Unicaja but ahead of winless Aris TT Bank after one-third of the Top 16. Benetton used its first home game in the round to declare its candidacy as a contender by stopping one of Europe's hottest teams in its tracks. Dynamo had won its previous six in a row and eight of its last nine Euroleague games, but Benetton made things clear early in Treviso, winning the first quarter on Wednesday by a whopping 25-9. Dynamo never got as close as 10 points the rest of the way and could not lower the margin as it wished in the second half. Newcomer Preston Shumpert was the second-half scorer for Benetton and led the winners with 15 points, while Nikos Zisis scored all of his 14 in the first half. Bojan Popovic and Lazaros Papadopoulos finished with 17 each for Dynamo.
Marcus Goree got Benetton on its way with 4 quick points but Antonis Fotsis found room to hit a triple that got Dynamo on the scoreboard at 4-3. Erazem Lorbek scored for Benetton but had the tough task of guarding Papadopoulos and committed 2 fouls in succession, so Goree took over that defensive assignment. Angelo Gigli and Terrell Lyday combined then to cap a 7-0 home run that prompted CSKA head coach Dusan Ivkovic to call timeout at 11-3. Benetton came back and continued flying high as Zizis scored off a great feed by Matteo Soragna. Popovic reacted with a basket in penetration and Papadopoulos added free throws to bring Dynamo within 13-7. After Marco Mordente and Popovic exchanged baskets, however, the guests would not score again in the first quarter. In the meantime, Zizis added 4 points while drawing a pair of fouls on Popovic. Spencer Nelson took over the show now, netting 5 points without reply from Dynamo as Benetton zoomed to the end of a quarter ahead by 25-9.
Fotsis started the second half in spectacular fashion, popping a triple from a good 8 meters. Benetton was putting just about every defender in the path of Papadopoulos, but he kept causing trouble underneath. He swished 3 free throws in a row but Zizis matched that with a basket-plus-free throw to keep a 14-point Benetton advantage, 29-15. Fotsis ended a two-minute scoring drought with a spectacular alley-oop for Dynamo, but Zizis again connected from beyond the arc. Both team were having problems unlocking their basketball and Benetton head coach David Blatt took a timeout to resolve the issue at 35-19. Popovic returned and did not miss any of 4 free throw attempts but Goree eventually got Benetton back on track offensively. Bryant Smith arrived to help Benetton with a triple, but Taquan Dean replied quickly for Dynamo to fix the halftime score at 42-27.
Benetton got off to a good start in the second half as Nelson and Terrell Lyday scored to make it 45-27. Popovic and Papadopoulos combined for a fast 0-6 Dynamo to show that the visitors still had intentions of coming back. Papadopoulos was now unstoppable but Goree hit the three-pointer that kept the crowd going and the lead in double digits, at 50-37. Shumpert made his presence felt now by tallying 4 points and fighting hard. The game was getting tougher, too, as Lorbek responded to Dmitry Khvostov with the score at 54-39. Dynamo took another timeout, but with little effect as Gigli drained a three-point bomb. As the seconds ticked away, Mordente stripped Obinna Ekezie of the ball and drew a foul, swishing the 2 free throws to keep Benetton firmly in front, 59-41 after 30 minutes.
Dynamo had a mountain to climb in the final quarter, but Benetton cleverly kept control of the ball until Shumpert got his team over the 20-point margin, 62-41, with a shot from downtown. Shumpert stole and scored again, firing up the crowd. When Lorbek scored a put-back, there was no sign of a comeback from Dnyamo, which took another timeout with the scoreboard showing 67-43. There was no secret of to whom the victory was going now, but the point difference for the round continued to be crucial for both teams. A Papadopoulos hook was met by a long jumper from Soragna. Popovic scored to reduced the gap to 19 and Papadopoulos continued playing physical inside to get more some points at the foul line. Shumpert, who had a great second half, regained the 20-point margin from beyond the arc as Benetton made sure that its first Top 16 victory came with plenty cushion in the bank and no worries about point difference.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007