Benetton Basket Bwin became the first team to make it to the Last 16 in Group F by downing Asefa Estudiantes in Treviso, Italy on Tuesday. Benetton improved to 4-0 and is one of the two teams - along with Alba Berlin in Group H - that has mathematically qualified to the next round. Meanwhile, Estudiantes dropped to 2-2 and ties with PAOK BC for second place in this group. Estudiantes can reach the next round if it downs PAOK in Thessaloniki, Greece next week. Donatas Motiejunas paced the winners with 19 points. Devin Smith added 18, 9 rebounds and 6 steals, Stefan Markovic had 12 points while Greg Brunner pulled down 11 boards for Benetton. Nik Caner-Medley led Estudiantes with 17 points. Pancho Jasen and German Gabriel each added 13 for the guests. Estudiantes led 16-18 early in the second quarter but Markovic and Smith stepped up late in the first half to give Benetton a 40-33 edge at the break. Markovic struck three times from downtown and got some help from Motiejunas to make it a 15-point game, 58-43. Caner-Medley and Gabriel brought Estudiantes within 60-55 but Smith and Alessandro Gentile took care of business in crunch time to seal the outcome minutes before the final buzzer.
Smith got his team going with a layup that Jiri Welsch matched with a jumper for a 2-2 tie. Benetton found an early go-to guy in Motiejunas, that followed a put-back layup with a three-pointer to get a 7-2 lead. Caner-Medley sank a jumper and Josh Asselin added a triple to keep Estudiantes within 9-7. Estudiantes managed to stop Motiejunas and the hosts' offense collapsed. Meanwhile, Caner-Medley followed a jumper with 4-of-4 free throws to give his team an 11-13 edge. Smith scored again and Brunner added a put-back basket but a layup by Albert Oliver tied it at 15-15 after 10 minutes. Jasen and Sandro Nicevic traded free throws early in the second quarter but a layup by Caner-Medley restored a 16-18 Estudiantes lead. Massimo Bulleri struck from downtown and even when Jasen kept pacing Estudiantes with a put-back layup, Motiejunas and Nicevic restored a 23-20 Benetton lead. Jasen managed to tie the game with a bomb from downtown, 25-25, but Smith and Markovic combined for all points in a 9-2 run that gave Benetton a 34-27 lead. Gabriel tried to change things for Estudiantes but Hrvoje Peric and free throws by Markovic and Gentile helped Benetton to keep a 40-33 edge at halftime.
Markovic struck from downtown immediately after the break and Motiejunas added a layup to make it a double-digit game, 45-33. Caner-Medley sank free throws that Markovic bettered with another three-pointer to make Estudiantes call timeout at 48-35. Welsch followed a layup with free throws but Brunner and an unstoppable Motiejunas kept Benetton way ahead, 53-39. Gabriel and Oliver made free throws but Markovic buried his third triple in this quarter and Motiejunas added free throws for a 58-43 score. Gabriel hit foul shots and added a put-back layup in a 0-6 run that Caner-Medley capped with a layup. Nicevic sank a jumper but a triple by Gabriel got Estudiantes within 60-52 after 30 minutes. Caner-Medley struck from downtown early in the fourth quarter to make it a five-point game, 60-55. Benetton needed a go-to guy in found one in Smith, who followed a three-pointer with free throws for a 65-55 lead. Oliver sank a jumper while Jasen followed a put-back layup with a dunk to keep Estudiantes as close as 68-61. Smith and Brunner made free throws and a three-pointer by Gentile sealed the outcome, 74-65, with under 3 minutes left. A dunk by Gentile allowed all Benetton fans to celebrate that their team had reached the Last 16!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010