Euroleague newcomer Pamesa Valencia surprised a lot of people by winning its debut game in Group C on Wednesday against visiting Benetton Treviso, a finalist from last season. The surprise was not so much Pamesa's home victory, but the margin of 25 points, 89-64, against an opponent known for giving those kinds of beatings, not taking them. Pamesa both dominated the rebounds and buried 12 of 23 three-pointers to control both the inside and outside games. Antoine Rigaudeau and Alessandro Abbio, a pair of veterans very familiar with both Benetton and their old coach, Ettore Messina, gave Pamesa the big-game experience needed to welcome a sellout crowd in Valencia to Euroleague basketball with a win. Nevertheless, Dejan Tomasevic was the key factor of the game, dominating Benetton's frontcourt with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. Rigaudeau added 17 points while Abbio had 13 and Demos Dikoudis 10. Maurice Evans scored 18 points for Benetton. Tyus Edney added 12 points, while both Denis Marconato and Massimo Bulleri scored 10 points apiece.
Rigaudeau went on fire in the opening minutes of the game, scoring 8 of the first 9 Pamesa points to give his team an early lead, 9-6. A three-pointer by Massimo Bulleri and a jump shot by Tyus Edney took Benetton ahead, 9-11, but homegrown shooting guard Victor Luengo made a three-point play driving to the hoop, then hit a shot from downtown, giving Pamesa it first surge, to 15-11, and getting the fans started, too. Three free throws by Maurice Evans got Benetton back into the game until another triple by Bulleri tied the game at 17-17. Fabricio Oberto made 1 of 2 foul shots with 5 seconds to go to give Pamesa the minimum lead, 18-17, at the end of 10 minutes.
Little did anyone know that Pamesa was about to make a major move on a major team. Dejan Tomasevic and Oberto dominated the boards in the early minutes of the second quarter, as well as being effective in the offensive end. Jose Antonio Paraiso hit an open three-pointer and Alessandro Abbio scored an alley-oop layup to power a 9-0 run that took the hosts to a double-digit lead, 29-19. Benetton did not find the way to the basket, while Abbio and a very active Tomasevic pushed the Pamesa edge to 36-22. Benetton coach Ettore Messina switched to a 3-2 zone defense, but Marko Popovic and Abbio scored again from downtown, and Demos Dikoudis hit a jumper in the paint. Pamesa reached the locker rooms with an unpredictable 17-point lead, 44-27, after a perfect first half. The hosts had outrebounded Benetton 15-9 and made 7 of 12 three-pointers, while Benetton had shot 9-for-29 overall.
Rigaudeau showed up after halftime just as he had in the first minutes of the game, hitting back-to-back thee-pointers, but Evans dunked coming off the baseline and that seemed to be a slight wake-up call for Benetton. Edney made a three-point play, Denis Marconato hit 2 foul shots and Bulleri made a running jumper to push Benneton within nine, 57-48. But 2 three-pointers by Alejandro Montecchia and Abbio, 2 free throws by Paraíso, a reverse layup by Tomasevic and a final fastbreak layup by Popovic was too much variety for the visitors' defense to deal with. They all gave Pamesa a 21-point lead, 69-48, after three quarters, and the fans at Fuente de San Luis Pavillion went crazy.
Benetton opened the final quarter with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 71-56. But Dikoudis hit the 11th Pamesa three-pointer in the game, followed by another one from Popovic, to give Pamesa a safe 19-point lead with less than 5 minutes to play. Benetton now knew how a lot of its own opponents had felt last season under a barrage of outside shots. Meanwhile, as the minutes wound down, Pamesa and its fans celebrated revenge for the last time they had faced Benetton, in a 1999 Saporta Cup final game loss.
Wednesday, November 5, 2003