Lottomatica Roma edging Real Madrid 69-64
Lottomatica Roma claimed a second major scalp in as many weeks and rejoined the Top 16 race in Group C by edging Real Madrid 69-64 at home in the Italian capital on Thursday night. Coupled with its win over previously unbeaten Panathinaikos a week earlier, Roma can boast victories over last season's Euroleague and ULEB Cup champions in a span of just eight days. Equally important, Roma improved its record to 3-6, tied with Chorale Roanne for sixth place in Group C. Meanwhile, Real Madrid dropped to 6-3 and is now third in this group. Roberto Gabini and Erazem Lorbek paced the winners each with 17 points. Louis Bullock had 11 points for Madrid while Kerem Tunceri, Alex Mumbru, Felipe Reyes and Charles Smith each added 10 for the guests. A three-pointer by Allan Ray gave Roma its biggest lead, 46-39, midway through the third quarter, but Hervelle and Bullock fueled a 3-14 run that Tunceri capped with a wild triple to put Madrid back ahead, 49-53, after 30 minutes. Roma rallied now, as a free throw by Jon Stefansson gave the hosts a 59-58 edge with 3 minutes to go. Gabini and Bullock traded triples while Reyes hit free throws for a 61-62 Real Madrid edge heading into the last minute. Ray's three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining gave Roma the lead for good and his pair of late free throws to extend it to 67-64, while Roko Leni-Ukic's game-ending dunk sent the winners off the court in style.
Jacopo Giachetti caught a pass from David Hawkins and scored on a drive to launch Roma's effort, but Madrid would have the much better start. Smith replied with a three-pointer right in front of the Madrid bench to ignite a 0-10 run that was capped by Axel Hervelle's bomb from the arc. Lorbek ended the Roma drought with a layup and Gabini dunked following a steal but Alex Mumbru and Smith responded with baskets to restore the eight-point Madrid advantage. Mumbru's three-ball gave the visitors a 9-19 lead yet the Romans showed the same resiliency that propelled them to victory against Panathinaikos. Hawkins immediately went baseline and dunked over Hervelle and the next trip down he passed up an open shot and fed Gabini down low. Lorbek then hit 3 consecutive layups as the hosts finished the first quarter on a 10-0 run to leave the game level at 19-19.
Stefansson began the second quarter with a jumper in the lane as Roma took the lead for the second time in the game. Blagota Sekulic stopped the Madrid slide with a layup and Raul Lopez hit a short jumper as the Spanish champs went ahead again. Gabini put back an offensive rebound to level the score again, 23-23 and then buried a three-pointer from the left before Ukic made an uncontested left-handed layup at 28-23. When Stefansson hit a baseline jumper, Roma led 34-27 but a Smith three-pointer and Tunceri's 10-foot jumper with 5 seconds remaining trimmed the difference to 34-32 at halftime.
Roma reasserted itself after the break as Lorbek sank a pair of free throws and Gabini scored inside. Bullock took his first three-pointer and made it, but an impressive Gabini answered with another drive for a 40-35 Roma advantage. The hosts soon opened up a 46-39 lead when Ray drained a three-pointer with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter. Madrid battled back, though. A Hervelle put-back dunk was followed by a Reyes three-point play and a three-ball by Tunceri. Bullock then added a three-point play to cap an 11-0 run with a new Madrid lead, 46-50. Lorbek then made 3 of 4 at the line to steady Roma's nerves, but Tunceri nailed a three-pointer just before the end of the quarter to put Madrid in front at 49-53.
Mumbru's three-point shot extended Madrid's lead to 7 points to start the fourth quarter, before Gregor Fucka and Lorbek responded with baskets and Ukic with free throws to close the gap at 55-56. Stefansson then put Roma back in front at 58-56 with a three-pointer. Neither team scored for almost 3 minutes until Bullock caught an inbounds pass by Smith and made a layup to tie the game. The hosts kept calm and earned two consecutive trips to the free throw line, but made just 1 of 4 attempts there. After Tunceri missed from long range, however, the outstanding Gabini connected from behind the arc to make it 62-58. Bullock replied with a three-ball of his own with 2 minutes to go, and after Reyes blocked a Gabini layup, he was fouled and made both free throws to seize a new Madrid lead at 62-63. Ray put Roma back in front with a three-pointer to ignite the crowd at the Palalottomatica and then Reyes made just 1 of 2 free throws at 65-64 with 33 seconds remaining. Next, Ray penetrated with the shot-clock winding down, was fouled by Hervelle and made both free throws for a 67-64 lead with 14.4 seconds left. After a timeout, Madrid got the ball to Bullock, but his game-tying three-point try rimmed out and Roma rebounded to seal a second consecutive upset victory.
Thursday, December 20, 2007