Benetton took another step forward to clinch the second spot in Group C at the end of the Euroleague regular season by thrashing Pau-Orthez 91-73 at home in Treviso, Italy on Thursday night. Benetton imrpoved to 8-5 in the standings but depends on Panathinaikos to finish second in Group C. Benetton needs to win its game and wait for the Greens to lose either of its two remaining road games against the Opel Skyliners or Pau-Orthez. Meanwhile, Pau dropped to 3-10 with no chance to reach the Top 16. Marlon Garnett led the winners with 16 points, Denis Marconato and Marcus Goree each added 14, Patch Morlende 13 and newcomer David Bluthenthal 10 for Benetton. Mire Chatman had 17 points por Pau, Thierry Gadou 13 and Johan Petro 11 for the guests. The game was close for 25 minutes, but Benetton used a 24-6 run which bridged between the third and fourth quarter to seal the outcome and cruise to an important home win.
Surprise starter Petro got Pau-Orthez started with a jump hook to which Artur Drozdov added a basket for a 2-4 lead. Benetton looked for Goree and Marconato early, but a big three by Massimo Bulleri gave the hosts their first lead at 7-6. Pau did not panic, as Drozdov scored around the basket and Chatman dunked off a midcourt steal to put the visitors back in charge at 7-10. Benetton used the bench, as Ramunas Siskauskas and Morlende stepped on court, but Petro and Gadou combined for 5 quick points and a 10-15 Pau edge. Free throws by Morlende and a big dunk by Joey Beard got the hosts back in track. Even with that, Gadou scored at the line and Davor Marcelic added a bomb from downtown to help Pau keep a 19-22 edge after 10 minutes.
T.J. Lux entered for the second quarter and soon put together a mid-range jumper and a tip-in for a 19-26 Pau lead. Benetton could not find the way to the basket until Garnett followed a long jumper with a coast-to-coast layup. Still, the hosts had trouble slowing Lux. Chatman hit a tough jumper that Garnett matched in the other end as the scoring pace quickened. Pau called timeout at 27-30, but Goree scored 5 points in a 9-0 run that finished with corner three-pointer giving Benetton a new lead, 34-30. Bulleri drilled a mid-range jumper before heading to the bench with 4 fouls, while Chatman and Petro combined 4 of 4 free throws to give back the lead to Pau, 36-37. Marconato scored off a pick-and-roll, and as Benetton improved its defense, Goree dunked and Morlende hit an off-balance layup to put the hosts back ahead, 46-43, at halftime.
Chatman and Morlende exchanged three-pointers soon after the break, but Benetton's defense set the pace now, forcing back-to-back 24-second violations on Pau. Meanwhile, Garnett followed free throws with a shot from downtown, then Marconato capped a 10-0 run with a put-back hook that made it 57-46. Pau needed a go-to guy and Gadou followed a layup with a corner three to make it a six-point game, 59-53. Next, a free throw by Goree ignited a new 11-0 run that Matteo Soragna and Siskauskas capped with back-to-back baskets as Benetton, holding Pau scoreless almost 4 minutes, cruised to a 72-55 margin after 30 minutes.
Pau needed a quick comeback to keep its chances alive, but Marconato made a second-chance basket inside while Soragna fed newcomer Bluthenthal for a dunk and a 76-59 difference. While Pau failed to find the way to the basket, Garnett slashed for a layup and a very active Bluthenthal hit free throws. Again, Benetton's defense ruled, holding Pau scoreless for more than 5 minutes this time, while Garnett's jumper finished another run of 11 points with Benetton up 83-59 and still chasing second place in Group C.
Thursday, February 3, 2005