Benetton Treviso took an impressive and important Group C road win on Wednesday night in Frankfurt by defeating the Opel Skyliners 58-77. A first half with great three-point shooting accuracy was enough for Benetton to pull away and never look back. Opel started a shy reaction early in the final quarter, but Benetton was back in control soon and cruised to the win. The victory lifts Benetton to 5-4 and at least a share of third place with Panathinaikos. On the other hand, Opel dropped to 2-7 as its Top 16 options diminished almost completely. Marlon Garnett led Benetton with 21 points, 16 of them in the first half. Matteo Soragna added 13 points for the winners and Massimo Bulleri 11, while Marcus Goree posted a double-double of 11 points and 15 rebounds. For Opel, only Chris Williams reached double digits in scoring with 13 points.
Goree opened fire with a layup but Williams and Pascal Roller soon teamed up to tie 4-4 for Opel. Garnett and Soragna soon connected back-to-back triples for a fast 4-10 lead by the guests. Roller copied them from the arc on a fastbreak, but Bulleri and Garnett hit new triples to boost Benetton ahead 9-16. On the other end, Opel center Robert Maras battled Denis Marconato in the paint to score a tough hook for 12-18. But Opel's zone defense offered easy shots that the Benetton shooters were happy to take as Patch Morlende and Garnett added new triples for a 12-24 advantage after 10 minutes in which the guests had made 6 of 8 shots from the arc.
Williams started the second quarter like a hurricane, scoring 6 straight points for Opel. Uros Slokar blasted a dunk to stop the bleeding for Benetton, but Williams soon had Opel within 22-28. A quick triple by Morlende restored a double-digit lead that Goree pushed to 22-34 on a sweet drive. Opel's Alex King battled for a basket inside, but Benetton got their points easily, Marconato on an offensive rebound and Garnett on a fastbreak for a 15-point edge, 24-39. Steals by Roller and Williams allowed Opel to limit the damage to 27-39 in time for the half.
The three-point shooting of Benetton did not cool during the break. Bulleri hit the first bomb of the second half. Hasan Ozkan copied him for Opel, while Spiros Panteliadis went coast-to-coast to cut the difference to 34-44. Bulleri and Garnett were ready with new three-pointers, however, as Benetton pulled away again at 34-50. Williams fought back from under the basket, but Soragna nailed Benetton's 12th triple of the night already to make it 36-53 and soon he was throwing in another that sent the lead over the 20-point barrier to 36-57. Panteliadis and King kept Opel going, but Slokar pulled as many as three straight offensive rebounds on the same play to show the difference of size in the paint. A new jumper by Soragna and free throws by Goree left Benetton up 43-65 after 30 minutes.
In the last period, Opel finally stepped up for real. Bulleri hit a jumper and Benetton still dominated on offensive rebounds, but the guests' three-point shooting cooled as Opel insisted on its zone defense. At the same time, Jukka Mattinen and Mladjen Sljivancanin posted consecutive triples and the latter added a steal and layup that pulled Opel within 55-68 in minute 34. Williams had fouled out, however, and after a Benetton timeout, Goree scored and Marconato blasted a power dunk to reestablish Benetton's momentum. It lasted the rest of the way and Benetton was back on track with a key Group C road win to start 2005.
Wednesday, January 5, 2005