Two proud runners-up from the last two Euroleague seasons went toe-to-toe like heavyweights before Tau Ceramica pulled out a 77-69 Group A home win over Climamio Bologna on Wednesday in Vitoria, Spain. Tau dominated for most of the game, but needed an 8-0 finishing run to break two late ties and make off with the victory. Luis Scola led the winners with 18 points that included 10 of 10 free throws. Serkan Erdogan added 17 points while Kornel David posted a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds for Tau. Sani Becirovic led the way for Climamio with 14 points and shot his team into the game later. Dalibor Bagaric added 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, Marco Belinelli 11 and Travis Watson 10. Tau led 61-48 late in the third quarter, but Becirovic had 10 points in an 8-21 run which tied the game at 69-69 with under 3 minutes to go. A mid-range jumper by David and back-to-back triples by Casey Jacobsen and Sergi Vidal sealed the first win for the current Euroleague runner-ups.
After one minute of silence in the memory of legendary coach Aleksander Gomelsky, Bagaric opened fire for Climamio with a layup on his first attempt. Both teams showed up very focused and concentrated in offense, which led to a 7-6 lead for the hosts after only 2 minutes. Bagaric, with 8 early points, kept Climamio in the game and prevented Tau from escaping as the hosts prevailed by a single point, 11-10, midway through the first period. Back-to-back baskets by David and Scola opened a small margin for Tau, but Climamio managed to exploit the hosts' defensive gaps to come within 17-15 after 8 minutes. Tau kept pushing inside, using David as its main weapon, to reach the end of the quarter with a short lead of 22-18.
Climamio ran into its first big problem when Travis Watson committed his third foul just as the second period started, forcing coach Jasmin Repesa to take Bagaric off the bench to replace him. Tiago Splitter's free throws were the only thing that changed the scoreboard, which saw no more action in the first 2 minutes. Although the hosts were not very accurate from the field, their dominion under the boards allowed them to keep Climamio behind by 27-23 after 14 minutes. Climamio increased its intensity on defense and used fullcourt pressure that put Tau in some trouble, but the main problem for the visitors was still there: rebounding, especially on defense. Thanks to second-chance points, Tau held a 36-31 advantage 2 minutes before halftime, as Climamio insisted from the three-point line without success. Even after a flagrant foul called on Vidal, Climamio was unable to reduce the gap and Tau took the first half by 38-32.
Erdogan decided to step forward and lead Tau, scoring all his team's points in first 4 minutes after halftime. All told, Erdogan nailed 11 points in a row, including a three-pointer and 6 of 8 free throws, as Tau's margin reached double digits for the first time, 48-38. Mancinelli reduced that gap almost immediately with a layup as Erazem Lorbek headed to the bench due to his fourth foul midway through the third quarter. Differences remained as Climamio switched its defense to zone, but nothing worked for the visitors, whose shooters kept struggling. Finally, Belinelli nailed Climamio's second three-pointer of the night, after 28 minutes, but Tau didn't need more than feeding Scola and Splitter inside to get a solid 61-50 edge at the end of the third period.
Climamio didn't panic and, using Watson at center and Kommatos playing the power forward, came within 61-57 on a three pointer by Garris and back-to-back baskets by Becirovic and Watson. Tau coach Pedro Martinez tried a timeout, but Becirovic insisted from the three-point line and reduced the gap even more, to 63-60 with 6 minutes to go. After his next free throw, Erdogan and Belinelli exchanged jumpers to put up a 65-63 score after 35 minutes. The fight got even hotter after back-to-back baskets by Becirovic. Belinelli finally tied, 67-67 with 3 minutes remaining, prompting another Tau timeout. Scola drew Lorbek's fifith foul and hit both free throws to break the tie, but Kiwane Garris reestablished it with 2:19 to play on a jumper. David kept Climamio from the lead with a short shot, then the killer came, a corner three-pointer by Casey Jacobsen that made it 74-69 for Tau entering in the last minute. Climamio would not score again, while Vidal banked in a triple, proving it was Tau's night for a 77-69 win.
Wednesday, November 2, 2005