Climamio climbed closer to the Group A leaders when it blasted Benetton Treviso 84-65 in an all-Italian clash in Bologna on Wednesday. A 34-point first quarter by Climamio set the stage for big leads that the hosts protected with ease the rest of the way to raise their record to 6-4. That is the same mark now as Benetton has and it remains to be seen if it's good enough for share of first or second place after Zalgiris and Tau Ceramica, both 6-3, play home games on Thursday. Stefano Mancinelli was the catalyst for Climamio early and finished with a team-high 19 points in 21 minutes. Sani Becirovic scored 15 off the bench for the winners, while Dalibor Bagaric added 14 points, Kiwane Garris 12 and Erazem Lorbek 11. Euroleague scoring leader Drew Nicholas did most of the damage for Benetton, with 26 points, while Marcus Goree added 11.
Climamio's offense took the game over immediately as Mancinelli got started with 7 points of his own in a 9-2 edge after 2 minutes. Marco Belinelli and Garris barged in with back-to-back triples to push the lead to double-digit already, 15-4. Nicholas found his first three-pointer, but Belinelli replied with a long jumper and Climamio was still way ahead, 19-9, after Lorbek made foul shots. Nicholas was the only Benetton player to reply while Climamio found points close to the basket, thus pushing the lead to 15 points, 25-10, on a Mancinelli put-back and a Lorbek layup. With Benetton coach David Blatt calling a zone to stop Climamio, Sani Becirovic buried a triple and fed Travis Watson for an easy layup and a 31-13 lead. Benetton couldn't find its way inside, so Luca Sottana nailed a three-pointer to revive the guests. But when Becirovic copied him, Climamio had an amazing 34-16 lead at the end of a quarter.
The Bologna crowd got worried when forward Tomas Ress left following a collision with Marcus Goree of Benetton. It was then that the guests made their first run as Nicholas and Rimunas Siskauskas closed fastbreaks to make it 34-20. Climamio exploited a flagrant foul with another triple by Sani Becirovic, who later added a drive-plus-free throw to double Benetton's score, 40-20. Nicholas played the point now and fed Goree for a baseline dunk but Becirovic wasn't done and broke the double-team to make it 44-24. He had 13 points already. Climamio kept defending with intensity as Mancinelli stole and scored in the open court and added a triple that made it 49-28. Nicholas continued as Benetton's go-to-guy, creating for himself and his teammate, but when Garris fed Lorbek for an open three-pointer, it was 56-34 at halftime and Benetton was looking at trouble on the road.
Siskauskas scored on a floater to open the third quarter while Mancinelli shocked everyone again with a no-look pass and a dunk to make it 61-36. Kiwane Garris got red-hot with back-to-back triples and Climamio ballooned its lead to 27 points, 67-40, midway through the quarter. A standing ovation followed Mancinelli when he went to the bench, while Nicholas kept fighting by going over 20 points on an amazing jumper for 67-45. Climamio loosened its grip on the game with no field goals in 4 minutes, although Benetton didn’t get closer than a 20-point deficit, which came with Goree's put-back for a 69-49 scoreboard after 30 minutes.
A turnaround jumper by Andrea Bargnani brought Benetton under the 20-point wall, 71-53, but he soon fouled out early. By this time, Climamio was on automatic pilot and didn’t let Benetton coming closer. Bagaric stopped any Benetton rally attempt, scoring against Petar Popovic and dunking for a 75-55 score with 5 minutes left. Belinelli fed his big man again and Fortitudo hit another 21-point lead on 77-56, before Nicholas drove the lane. Goree and Popovic rounded their stats down the stretch but it’s been a one-way night as Climamio had already run away with a 84-65 blowout win.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006