An early-season battle of superpowers in Group C was decided by spectacular individual effort on Wednesday as Tau Ceramica won 99-92 at Benetton Treviso behind 36 points and 15 rebounds from Andres Nocioni and 32 more points from Arvydas Macijauskas. Tau improved to 1-1 in the group. Benetton, a finalist last season, falls to 0-2. Tau fought back from deficits small and large all night because Macijauskas and Nocioni were unstoppable all night. Nocioni was the man of the game with 36 points on 13-for-15 field goals, including 3 of 4 three-pointers. Macijauskas made only 1 of 7 triples, but was a perfect 13-for-13 from the foul line and had 4 steals. Kornel David added all 12 of his points for the winners in the crucial third quarter despite deep foul trouble. Denis Marconato led all Benetton scorers with 21 points, and doubled up with 11 rebounds. Tyus Edney added 20 points, none in the last quarter, while Maurice Evans had 16 points and Riccardo Pittis 12.
Benetton had a strong start to the game, scoring their first 5 field goals and leading 12-6, with captain Riccardo Pittis already up to 6 points himself. A layup plus two free throws by Jose Manuel Calderon took Tau within 12-10, but then the Tyus Edney show started. Tau could not find the way to stop the all-Euroleague point guard, who powered his team to a 12-3 run in which five different players scored as Benetton went ahead by double-digits, 24-13. Macijauskas woke up late in the quarter to score 4 foul shots and a jumper, but Edney answered with the final 6 Benetton points to retain a nine-point lead, 30-21, for his team after 10 minutes. Benetton had shot 13-for-16 from the field in the quarter.
Tau opened the second quarter with a jumper by Nocioni and a three-pointer by Macijauskas. That started a 4-12 run in which Macijauskas, a can't-miss choice from the free throw line, had 7 points to bring Tau within 34-33. Tau did not manage to take the lead, as Pittis dished back-to-back assists to Marconato and Edney for a 38-33 score. Marconato was unstoppable in the paint, while Guilherme Giovannoni came off the Benetton bench to score back-to-back shots from downtown. Tau improved with Pablo Prigioni on the point, and found their key player, Nocioni, late in the half. Nocioni scored 8 point in the last 4 minutes to prevent Benetton from gaining a bigger lead than the 54-51 halftime score. Macijauskas and Nocioni had already combined for 37 of Tau's points, while Edney, Marconato and Pittis were in double figures for the hosts.
David picked up his foruth foul in the first minute of the third quarter, but coach Dusko Ivanovic kept hom on the court in what proved to be a key decision. David and Nocioni combined to score the first 11 Tau points in the second half, but Maurice Evans scored 3 shots almost in a row to give Benetton a six-point lead, 70-64. David would score all his 12 points in the third quarter and managed to keep his team in the game. Calderon added a layup to Tau's total before Evans had a huge block on Macijauskas to close the third quarter at 77-74 for Benetton.
A three-pointer by youngster Uros Slokar put Benetton 6 points ahead, 82-76, early in the final quarter. A zone defense by Tau followed and that was the turning point of the game. Benetton struggled, and Nocioni followed a coast-to-coast two-handed slam with a mid-range jumper to tie the game anew, 82-82. The hosts stayed ahead with 6 points from the line to make it 88-86 while David and Calderon fouled out for Tau. But then Macijauskas made a five-meter jumper that was followed by a Nocioni free throw that gave Tau its first lead of the game. Pittis was fouled and missed both free throws, but Macijauskas was perfect on his 2 at the other end as Tau's lead swelled to 88-91. Both Bulleri and Edney missed three-pointers now while Nocioni was fouled twice and made all 4 of his foul shots to seal the game at 88-95. Macijauskas made sure with the final 4 Tau points to finish an extraordinary road win for the Spaniards.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003