Benetton Bwin became the Last 16 Group L champion by thrashing Cajasol Sevilla 84-68 in Treviso, Italy on Tuesday. Both teams tied atop this group's standings with a 5-1 record, but Benetton finished first with its 16-point win tonight, as Cajasol had preciously downed the Italian powerhouse 66-55 in Seville, Spain earlier on in this phase. As such, Benetton will have the home court advantage in its two-way Quarterfinals series against BG Goettingen while Cajasol faces Last 16 Group J champion Budivelnik. Devin Smith paced the winners with 20 points. Massimo Bulleri and Donatas Motiejunas each added 12 while Brian Skinner and Hrvoje Peric had 10 apiece for Benetton. Skinner addeed 17 rebounds for a double-double. Paul Davis led Cajasol with 20 points. Louis Bullock added 17 while Txemi Urtasun had 12 for the guests, that led 18-20 late in the first quarter. A 20-0 run allowed Benetton to get the lead for good, 38-20. Cajasol managed to get within 43-35 soon after the break but Benetton boosted its margin to 63-45 early in the fourth quarter and cruised to a well-deserved, decisive home win.
Motiejunas got Benetton going with a tip-in and Greg Brunner added a layup for a 4-2 Benetton lead. Motiejunas scored again but a jumper by Bullock and a dunk off a steal by Tariq Kirksay tied it at 6-6. Brunner split free throws and traded baskets with Kirksay to give his team a 9-8 edge. Cajasol kept running its offense through an unstoppable Davis but a three-pointer by Bulleri provided another lead change, 14-13. Davis and Smith exchanged baskets but a jumper by Earl Calloway and a triple by Urtasun gave Cajasol a 18-20 edge. Jakub Wojciechowski took over with a dunk, Bulleri sank a jumper and an easy basket by Skinner gave Benetton a 24-20 lead after 10 minutes. Cajasol kept struggling to score early in the second quarter and a layup by Motiejunas made the guests call timeout at 28-20. Smith shined with a fast break basket and free throws by Motiejunas allowed Benetton to reach its goal, 32-20. Cajasol had been scoreless for more than 9 minutes and free throws by Bulleri capped a mamooth 20-0 run for a 38-20 score. Davis finally found the way to the basket, Tomas Satoransky added an off-balance basket and free throws by Bullock gave Cajasol some fresh air, 38-26. Foul shots by Urtasun and a buzzer-beating triple by Bullock got the guests within 41-31 at halftime.
Bullock made free throws and soon added a jumper to give Cajasol some hope, 43-35, right after the break. Brunner kept pacing Benetton with a three-point play and Motejiunas added a jumper, as the guests could not find the way to the basket. Alessandro Gentile scored off a steal to make it a 13-point game, 51-37. Bullock tried to change things with a jumper but layup by Peric and free throws by Motiejunas kept Benetton way ahead, 55-39. Mindaugas Katelynas and Calloway made free throws but a dunk by Skinner and a layup by Smith allowed Benetton to keep a 59-43 margin after 30 minutes. Both teams now fought for points differential, as Cajasol could afford an 11-point loss and still win the group. Katelynas made free throws but a layup by Smith and a jumper by Skinner boosted the hosts' lead to 63-45. Paul Davis dunked it and Bullock scored again but they didn't find much help around. Meanwhile, Smith kept Benetton out of trouble, 67-49, with under 6 minutes left. Smith struck from downtown and by the time Skinner scored in the paint, everything was said and done already. Benetton survived its toughest test this season with a convincing home win while Cajasol must bounce back right away and get ready for its two-way series against Budivelnik.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011