Benetton Treviso got another taste of how tough and deep Group A can be as it took an all-night fight to win at home 86-78 against visiting Charleroi of Belgium. To have a team that qualified to enter the tournament take a domestically undefeated team in Italy almost to the wire is all anyone needs to know about how competitive the Euroleague is every night. Benetton raised its record to 2-1 while Charleroi fell to 0-3 with its second consecutive road loss.
Benetton had Jorge Garbajosa in uniform again after missing the previous game with back troubles, but was without Alan Tomidy, who was operated on this week for a double-fracture of the nose. Coach Mike D'Antoni chose a small quintet and Treviso started like dragsters: 8-1 after two minutes. Charleroi coach Giovanni Bozzi decided to substitute John Jerome for Roger Huggins, a fine idea as Charleroi goes to 13-13 after 5 minutes thanks to consecutive triples by Jacques Stas. Lining up Nicola and Garbajosa in the paint, Treviso lights up its famous fastbreak to arrive at 22-15, but Charleroi closes any further paths to the basket and deserves to go to the first break down two points only, 22-24. Charleroi plays face-to-face against a stronger team and at 12 minutes went ahead for the first time, 27-26, with another triple by Stas that Stojic was unable to anticipate. Treviso understands it's necessary to defend harder, so Pittis steals two balls but Charleroi, a well-balanced team, doesn't permit the locals to escape far. Benetton leads 37-31 at 18 minutes and 44-35 at the interval on a triple by Nicola against the visitors' zone.
Huggins is the greatest problem to solve for Treviso: he attracts fouls and goes to the charity line five times in the first half (7-10). And if this is not enough, he captures 9 rebounds, 5 of them on offense, surprising the slow and careless Treviso big men. D'Antoni puts Pittis on Huggins again, and the coach also takes a technical foul that hleps Charleroi climb within a single point, 44-43. The game now is tense. Garbajosa is free, misses two threes, but on the contrary shows he knows how to score as a real pivot: 52-46 at 26 minutes. Charleroi gets a couple pretty soots from Louis Rowe and a good job at rebounds on offens with Jerome and Potter. But the visitors start to suffer when the pace quickens and Chikalkin's hand warms up to a 57-48 Benetton lead, the highest local advantage so far. Potter throws in a prayer to end the quarter however with the game open at 64-59. Last 10 minutes start as a festival of long-distance shots. Benetton pushes the lead back more times up to the nine-point hill (74-65 at 34 minutes), but Huggins and company defend well and stop the locals from flying away. Chikalkin seems to break it open at 79-67 with just 4:00 left, but the game is not still over. Ron Ellis wakes up and cuts it back to 71-79. Benetton keeps its head in the final two minutes, however, and that is enough to walk away with a second victory in Group A.
Wednesday, October 24, 2001