On a record-breaking night in Basket City, its third 100-plus scoring show at home this season finally meant victory for Skipper Bologna as it outlasted visiting Zalgiris 117-107 to take sole possession of third place in Group B. Even without the presence of MVP leader Arvydas Sabonis for the visitors, Skipper and Zalgiris combined for the most points ever in a non-overtime Euroleague game, 224. The old record had been 217 points, when Real Madrid beat Ural Great 104-113 in the 2001-02 Top 16. As though one record weren't enough, Zalgiris big man Tanoka Beard shattered the Euroleague's individual performance mark with an index rating of 63 based on his 35 points and 19 rebounds. With the victory, Skipper improved to 6-4, alone behind Group B co-leaders CSKA and Maccabi. Zalgiris, meanwhile, fell to sixth place at 4-6. While Beard soared for Zalgiris, Milos Vujanic provided the fireworks for the home crowd, leading Skipper with 31 points, including 6 three-pointers. Gianluca Basile drilled 20 more points for the winners, Carlos Delfino 18, Matjaz Smodis 15 and Gianmarco Pozzecco 13. Behind Beard for Zalgiris came Ed Cota with 19 points, Ainars Bagatskis with 16, Giedrius Gustas with 14 and Mindaugas Timinskas with 12.
The action was hot from the opening minutes, as Vujanic knocked down 2 triples that gave Bologna an 11-4 edge. The hosts had an early bout of foul trouble, however, as Tomas Van den Spiegel and Marco Belinelli both picked up second fouls. Cota and Beard carried Zalgiris and Cota's triple brought Zalgiris to within 13-12. Vujanic and Basile led Skipper to 21-16 after nailing a pair of shots each from the foul line. Dainius Salenga responded for Zalgiris with a triple that made it 23-19 with 2 minutes left. Skipper had trouble with Zalgiris's zone defense, but Vujanic made a mid range jumper for a 27-23 local lead after 10 minutes.
Smodis nailed his first basket from long distance to begin the second quarter, but after Gustas buried three shots Zalgiris was within 32-30. Skipper went back up by 6 points after a Delfino dunk, but Beard was still unstoppable around the basket. The Zalgiris center had 15 points and 9 rebounds just 15 minutes into the game. Skipper was rolling after back-to-back triples from Vujanic and Delfino, making the score 46-38 with 3 minute left until the break. Beard and Smodis traded baskets and the first half ended with Skipper ahead 56-51.
Vujanic and Basile opened the third on fire. The Bologna backcourt extended again the margin to 66-57, but with Beard dominating under the glasses Zalgiris hung in at 72-65 after 24 minutes. Pozzecco provided a spark now, nailing 7 points in 3 minutes to put Skipper up 79-69, but Zalgiris came back with Gustas from long range and again on the break, cutting into Skipper's lead. The hot offense continued until the third-quarter buzzer sounded with Skipper edging Beard and his Zalgiris mates, 90-85.
Beard slammed but Hanno Mottola responded with a silky move to keep Skipper ahead 96-87 early in the final quarter. Beard made his presence felt at the other end of the court, rejecting consecutive shots by Delfino and Smodis, the second launching Bagatskis into the open court to cut the deficit to 96-89. After Vujanic answered with his sixth triple, Beard took Zalgirs on his shoulders, pulling the Lithuanians within 6 points at 101-95. But Delfino made Skipper's 15th three-pointer in 25 attempts to push Bologna toward victory. Timinskas went in double figures by chipping in a three that made the score 106-101, but Delfino, Pozzeco and Vujanic refused to bow, nailing crucial shots that had PalaDozza rocking. Skipper had lost two other home games this season, both in overtime, in which both teams topped 100 points. This time, the victory was staying in Basket City.
Thursday, January 22, 2004