Benetton Treviso started super and shook off every attempt at a comeback by Euroleague newcomer GHP Bamberg to win 76-68 in the Group A opener for both teams on Thursday. Benetton's 18-6 start proved too much for Bamberg to overcome, but not for lack of trying, as the guests cut the difference to 5 in the closing minutes. Marcus Goree was the steady for Benetton, scoring 16 points and pulling 11 rebounds. Petar Popovic and Ramunas Siskauskas added 14 points each and Nikos Zisis 11 for the winners, who committed just 7 turnovers all night. Bamberg got its biggest boost from recent arrival Spencer Nelson, who tallied 17 points and 13 rebounds. Demond Mallet added 14 and Robert Garrett 12 for Bamberg.
Benetton started with right choices on offense, starting with Peter Popovic, whose turnaround jumper opened the scoring. Benetton looked perfect through several minutes in building a 9-2 lead capped by a triple from Siskauskas. Before Bamberg could get a second basket, it already faced a 14-2 deficit on a basket-plus-free throw by Goree. Tim Begley and Robert Garrett got Bamberg within 18-6. Garrett got the guests closer with a three-pointer, but Guilherme answered for a 26-11 Benetton advantage. Only a string of late free throws from Spencer Nelson was sufficient for Bamber to cut Benetton's lead to 26-14 after one quarter.
Facing Bamberg defensive ace Koko Archibong, Siskauskas let Benetton to make it 31-16. Demond Mallet hurt Benetton's man-to-man defense to cut the gap but Nikos Zisis soon canned three-pointer as the hosts roared ahead, 34-18. Benetton switched to a zone that Mike Nahar punished from the corner with a triple that Mallet copied to get Bamberg within 36-25. Popovic broke the Benetton scoring drought with a jump-hook and Siskauskas picked up Archibong's third foul to force a new Bamberg timeout. Goree's put-back and Popovic's free throws established a new maximum lead, 42-25, before Bamberg made a 0-5 to close the half within 42-30.
Nelson restarted from where he left off for Bamberg, scored 5 points early in the second half that cut the gap to 44-35. Chris Ensminger cut it even further, to 48-40, with 3 points, but on defense, Bamberg couldn't handle Popovic, so the lead returned to double digits, 50-40. Siskauskas added to that with a jumper off an inbound, but Begley sank his triple to make it 52-43. Bamberg's defense was steady now, and Mallet took advantage by scoring from the arc and moving his within 52-46. Bamberg coach Dirk Bauermann switched to zone now and Benetton got offensive boards and foul shots worth a 57-48 edge. When Benetton's boss, David Blatt, also chose a zone, Nahar found an easy layup. Still, Benetton managed to stay ahead thanks to Siskauskas and Goree to hold a 60-50 edge after 30 minutes.
Goree slammed a rebound to start the final quarter as Benetton looked confident. A fastbreak pull-up jumper by Zisis made it 64-50. Bamberg fed inside to Ensminger while Mallet popped from outside to rally the guests within 68-57. Uros Slokar immediately stopped it with a basket-plus-free throw and Nicholas seemed to break Bamberg's hopes with a pull-up jumper for a 73-57 score midway through the quarter. But Nelson didn't give up and his jumper spurred a 7-0 run for the guests. Benetton lost Zisis for his fifth foul and remained scoreless, while Garrett ran a fastbreak to make it 73-66 with 1:25 to play. Nelson easy layup cut the lead to 5 points, 73-68, but Bamberg would score no more. Nicholas added a free throw, Siskauskas and Soragna as well, and Benetton could enjoy a 76-68 win to open Group A.
Thursday, November 3, 2005