Power Electronics Valencia stayed alive in difficult Group D and improved its options to reach the Top 16 by downing Armani Jeans Milano 60-75 in Biella, Italy on Thursday night. Both teams tie for fourth place in Group D, each with a 4-5 record, but Valencia has the tie-break advantage, as Milano registered an 11-point win in Spain earlier on this season. Valencia needs to win and expect Efes to beat CSKA or Panathinaikos to beat Milano in order to advance, as a three-way tie for third place between Efes, Milano and Valencia would send the Spanish team out of the competition. Milano needs to win and expect Olimpija to beat Valencia or Efes to beat CSKA. Rafa Martinez led the winners with 20 points on 5-of-7 three-pointers. Nando De Colo added 15 for Valencia. Ibby Jaaber led Milano with 13 points. Marco Mordente added 12 while David Hawkins had 10 for the guests. The game was stopped for 20 minutes due to an electronic problem with the game clock midway through the third quarter. Martinez took over right after that to make Valencia get a 43-56 margin after 30 minutes. Milano managed to get within 57-65 but Dusko Savanovic and an unstoppable Martinez allowed Valencia to get a critical road win.
Valencia coach Svetislav Pesic shocked everyone by placing big man James Augustine in his team's starting lineup. Robertas Javtokas split free throws and
Augustine added a layup for a 0-3 Valencia lead. Finley and Tomas Van den Spiegel answered with foul shots but Javtokas allowed the guests to stay
ahead, 3-6. Mordente buried a baseline jumper and a coast-to-coast layup by Stefano Mancinelli gave Milano its first lead, 7-6. Victor Claver split
free throws and added a layup that gave his team a 7-9 lead. Valencia tried a different frontline with Savanovic and Serhiy Lishchuk off the bench.
Savanovic found Lishchuk for a dunk but free throws by Jaaber kept Milano within 9-12. De Colo sank a fallaway jumoer, as Valencia kept powering the
offensive board - 6 in the first quarter. A five-meter shot by Finley got the hosts as close as 11-14 after 10 minutes.
Valencia kept controlling the game through De Colo early in the second quarter. He made free throws that Finley erased with a wild step-back jumper. De Colo insisted with a floating layup and soon added a three-pointer to boost Valencia's lead to 13-21. Jaaber struck from downtown but a tip-in by Lishchuk forced the hosts to call timeout at 16-23. Mason Rocca scored down low, as Milano had managed to lock the defensive board. Lishchuk sank a five-meter shot that Hawkins matched in the other end. Omar Cook shined with a put-back layup that Mordente bettered with a three-pointer, forcing Valencia to stop the game at 23-27. Mordente scored off a steal that Cook erased with a driving layup. Martinez sank a wide open shot from beyond the arc to boost Valencia's lead to 25-32. Jaaber nailed a jumper in transition to bring Milano within 27-32 at halftime.
Both teams struggled to score after the break until Hawkins stepped up with a fast break dunk. Martinez stepped up with his second triple, as Milano tried to speed up the game tempo with quick shots in transition. The game was stopped due to a clock problem and once action resumed, Javtokas shined with a hook shot and free throws by Savanovic boosted Valencia's lead to double digits, 29-39. Oleksiy Pecherov sank foul shots and bettered Javtokas' power basket with a three-pointer that got Milano within 34-41. Savanovic scored again and Martinez struck from downtown to make the hosts call a much-needed timeout at 34-46. Jaaber scored in penetration but free throws by Lishchuk and a triple by Claver broke the game open, 36-51. Mancinelli tried to ignite the hosts' comeback with a three-pointer, Pecherov and Rocca added foul shots but an outstanding Martinez kept Valencia way ahead, 43-56, after 30 minutes.
Augustine took over with a fast break layup early in the fourth quarter, as Milano tried to open the floor with Nicolo Melli at power forward. Jaaber scored in transition but De Colo provided a highlight with an off-balance basket. Finley made free throws but Valencia had started to use long possessions to run the game clock down. Jaaber scored again but a big triple de De Colo made it a 14-point game, 49-63, with 6 minutes left. Hawkins got the crowd involved with back-to-back bombs from downtown but a put-back layup by Savanovic gave Valencia some fresh air at 55-65. Mordente hit a close shot that Claver erased with a dunk that sealed the outcome, 57-67, with 3 minutes. Both teams fought now for points differential, as Milano got an 11-point win in Valencia. Savanovic and Martinez gave Valencia a 60-73 margin with 46 seconds left. Martinez rounded his best-ever Euroleague game with more foul shots to get Valencia even closer to the Top 16!
Thursday, December 16, 2010