Real Madrid secured the second spot in Group C and stayed in the fight to become a top-seeded team in the Top 16 Draw by downing Chorale Roanne 68-82 in Clermont Ferrand, France on Thursday night. Madrid improved to 10-3 and will be second in this group no matter what, since Panathinaikos is first at 12-1 while Barcelona in third at 8-5. Madrid needs to beat Panathinaikos next week and wait for other results in Group B to become the best second-ranked team in the competition, avoiding CSKA and Panathinaikos in their Top 16 group. Meanwhile, Chorale dropped to 3-10 but was awarded with a warm ovation at the last Euroleague home game this season. Louis Bullock led the winners with 14 points. Felipe Reyes added 13 and 7 rebounds, Axel Hervelle had 11 points, Alex Mumbru and Charles Smith each got 10 while Raul Lopez dished 8 assists for Madrid. Marc Salyers had 19 points for Roanne with Adam Hess added 11 for the hosts, that got their only lead at 26-24. Lopez and Hervelle allowed Madrid to restore a 35-39 edge at halftime. Roanne stayed in the game for 33 minutes, as back-to-back baskets by Salyers brought the hosts within 57-63. Bullock and Smith fueled a 0-7 run that allowed Madrid to seal the outcome minutes before the final buzzer.
Sergio Llull needed just 7 seconds to score on a driving layup but Hess quickly answered with a four-meter jumper. Hervelle scored around the basket while Mumbru added free throws for a 2-6 Madrid lead. Pape Badiane stepped up with a power layup but Mumbru kept pacing Madrid with a closer jumper. Brion Rush answered in the other end but Llull provided a highlight with a fast break dunk. Badiane also slammed it in the other end to bring Roanne within 8-10. Salyers tied the game with a driving layup, as Roanne tried to speed up the game tempo with very short possessions. Hervelle shined with a tip-in but Marc-Antoine Pellin matched it with a five-meter shot to tie the game again, 12-12. Lopez fed Hervelle for a reverse layup while Lazaros Papadopoulos took over with a smooth move in the low post, making Chorale call timeout at 12-16. Mumbru and Rush traded layups while a put-back basket by Soliman got Roanne within 17-18. Hervelle fed Mumbru for an easy basket while Reyes found his first points on free throws. More foul shots by Bullock and a baseline jumper by Laurent Cazalon fixed the score at 19-24 after 10 minutes.
Salyers buried a mid-range jumper right at the start of the second quarter, as Roanne started to control the defensive board. Meanwhile, Cazalon stroke from downtown for a 24-24 tie. Madrid struggled to score now against Chorale's triangle-and-two defense with Pierric Poupet on Bullock and Pellin on Lopez. Meanwhile, Salyers gave Chorale its first and only lead, 26-24. The guests called timeout and Blagota Sekulic stepped up with a tough jumper that Lopez followed with a corner triple for a 26-29 Madrid edge. Roanne switched from man-to-man to 1-2-2 zone defense often but now had major troubles to score without Salyers on court. Smith took over with an alleyoop layup to cap a 0-7 Madrid run. Badiane scored around the basket while Soliman added a put-back layup to bring Roanne as close as 30-31. Hervelle and Hess traded free throws while Reyes gave Madrid a 31-33 lead. Lopez sank a jumper off the dribble that Pellin matched with a wild put-back layup. Mumbru fed Hervelle for a reverse layup while Llull finished an outstanding fast break basket. Hess beat the buzzer with a jumper to get Roanne within 35-39 at halftime.
Lopez allowed Hervelle to score down low but Badiane nailed a four-meter jumper to keep Roanne within 37-41 after the break. Madrid kept missing open shots until Bullock beat the guests' 2-3 defense with a corner triple. Roanne now struggled to get open looks while an inspired Lopez found Bullock for another three-pointer that boosted Madrid's lead to double digits, 37-47. Salyers scored in the paint but Papadopoulos bettered that with a power layup - and the free throw that came with it. Salyers kept pacing Roanne with a dunk in traffic and soon added a driving basket to get the crowd involved at 43-50. Mumbru made free throws that Rush matched with a power layup before picking up his fourth foul. Reyes scored in a one-on-one situation against Salyers, as Roanne tried to adjust its defense with a timeout. Soliman took over with a power three-point play while Pellin provided a highlight with an incredible reverse layup that made it a four-point game, 50-54. Bullock sank free throws and even when Cazalon banked in a shot, Smith stroke from downtown to give Madrid a safer lead, 52-59, after three quarters.
Sekulic shined with a put-back basket right at the start of the second quarter while Smith simply took over with a high-flying alleyoop dunk, good for a 52-63 Madrid lead. Salyers tried to change things for Roanne with consecutive baskets to bring Roanne within 57-63 with 7 minutes remaining. Sekulic stepped up with another put-back layup while Smith drew an offensive foul on Cazalon. Roanne struggled now at both ends and Madrid made the most out of it. Bullock made free throws while Smith flew downcourt to get a layup-plus-foul that made it a 13-point game, 57-70, after a 0-7 run. Hess made free throws that Reyes quickly erased with an easy basket. The hosts called timeout and Hess banked in a second-chance jumper that Salyers followed with foul shots. Madrid kept running its offense through Reyes to stay ahead, 63-75, with under 4 minutes to go. A technical foul on Hess allowed Bullock to seal the outcome from the foul line. Madrid returned home as the main candidate to become the best second-ranked team in the competition while Chorale will have a final chance to grab a prestigious Euroleague win against Lottomatica Roma next week.
Thursday, January 24, 2008