There was a playoff atmosphere in the air for Maccabi Tel Aviv's historic first visit to Treviso on Thursday, and after a game full of wide swings and lead changes, host Benetton prevailed for a thrilling 87-83 victory in Group A. Tyus Edney led an impressive offensive effort by Benetton with 23 points. Sergei Chikalkin, who carried the early scoring load, added 17, Bostjan Nachbar and Jorge Garbajosa 14 each, and Marcelo Nicola 11. Anthony Parker led the visitors with 23 points, Huffman, Tal Burstein and Arriell McDonald put up 11 each, and Derrick Sharp added 10. The victory locked up the two ambitious teams with 3-2 records in third place in the Group, behind co-leaders Olympiakos and Efes Pilsen.
Benetton coach Mike D'Antoni surprised people by starting four small guys and one big man, Jorge Garbajosa, who had to match up with Nate Huffman. The result: Benetton led 7-0 after two minutes, 15-4 after four as Sergei Chikalkin started getting hot. A timeout, some changes in the offense, and the equally hot hand of Derrick Sharp from behind the arc got Maccabi back in the game at 14-19 after five minutes. Benetton went taller now, with Marcelo Nicola joining Garbajosa to make the lane presence more solid. Maccabi kept up its consistent attack, with Yoav Saffar running strong and Anthony Parker giving problems to Riccardo Pittis, the best defender in Benetton. All that led the visitors within 3 points, at 28-25, after 10 minutes.
D'Antoni decided to rest Tyus Edney to start the second quarter, and Maccabi reacted with an 11-2 run over 4 minutes that put the scoreboard lights to its advantage, 30-36. All in all, Maccabi had outscored Benetton 32-15 in the previous 10 minutes. Edney came back and Treviso found offensive fluidity again by looking less for three-pointers while putting the ball inside and forcing fouls. The run was now Benetton's, and it did not end until the hosts had outscored Maccabi 18-4 to take a 48-40 lead. Chikalkin and Edney were up to 15 points each by the time Benetton glided into the half, ahead by 52-45.
A high pace beginning the third period didn't fase Maccabi. The visitors simply tied the game with three straight long-distance baskets from three different players. But Garbajosa under the offensive boards wasa tiger and helped Benetton maintain the lead. D¿Antoni changed his defense, going to a 3-2 zone, the immediate impact being two turnovers by the Israelis. Treviso changed its defense again and Maccabi tied it again, 66-66, on a basket by Mark Brisker. Then came Edney-time again. The diminutive point guard scored a jump hook in the paint and a pull up jumper off a pick-and-roll to push Benetton ahead 70-66. Sharp was back on the floor to work on defense against Edney and the period ended on 71-68 with a final basket by Maccabi's Gur Shelef.
The fourth quarter began with Marcelo Nicola scoring from downtown and blocking a layup attempt by Shelef. Bostjan Nachbar added another three-pointer for a 77-68 Benetton lead, and then the duo Edney-Garbajosa sealed the game with an excellent play for an 82-68 lead with four minutes to go. Maccabi made an immediate 0-9 run and 3 minutes were left on a scoreboard that now read only 82-77 for the home team. It was not enough time, however, as a huge block by Garbajosa on a drive by Parker was the key defensive stretch to let Benetton take a huge win before its home fans.
Thursday, November 8, 2001