Metis Varese’s 73-59 win over Snaidero Udine
Metis Varese is going to the ULEB Cup quarterfinals through the main door thanks to a thrilling 73-59 victory over visiting Italian rival Snaidero Unide on Tuesday. Every basket in a thrilling final quarter counted for Varese to overcome its 83-77 loss at Udine in the first-leg meeting. In a finish where not only winning but points were important, Varese had three veterans to take over. Boris Gorenc led the way with 23 points, including a pair of last-minute dunks to protect the margin of victory. Paolo Conti scored 14 of his 16 in the second half. And Andrea Menghin helped with 14 others, including 5 in the early fourth quarter that stretched the lead for Varese. For Snaidero, Misan Nikagbatse was the scoring leader with 17 points, Jeff Stern tallied 12 while Joel Zacchetti and Mikhail Mikhailov netted 8 apiece.
The game started with poor percentages for both teams, who were well-prepared defensively for one another. That spelled was hard times for the offenses until Boris Gorenc with an open court layup and the additional free throw gave the first lead to Metis Varese, 7-6 after 4 minutes. Snaidero aligned in a 3-2 zone defense, and Varese answered by putting 2.23-meter teenage center Pavel Podkolzin on the floor. But after a couple scoreless minutes, it was Andrea Meneghin who would give Varese another slim 12-9 lead. Aleksandar Vujanic posted 2 free throws close to the buzzer for Snaidero to bring the scoreboard to 12-11 after one quarter.
In the second quarter, Udine's zone caused trouble to Varese, which only scored on fastbreak now thanks to Podkolzin's rebounds. Snaidero took advantage for a 0-6 run to a 15-17 lead capped by a midrange jumper from Joel Zacchetti. Metis got running again in the open court, however, because it was the only way to take easy shots. Ryan McCormack's layup and a three by Rusty Larue gave the hosts their first six-point lead, 25-19. Both teams improved their shooting now, which brought Snaidero within 28-27 as Mikahil Mikhailov put back an offensive rebound with a minute to go on the clock. A low scoring first half ended appropriately, with 3 straight shots missed by the teams and Varese ahead just by one, 28-27. Only Gorenc, with 12 points for Varese, had reached double-digits in the half, while Misan Nikagbatse was leading Snaidero with 7.
The third period began again with poor percentages and both teams playing tuogh on defense. Paolo Conti with his classic midrange jumper hit 3 straight shots to mantain Varese ahead with slim advantage. For Udine, Nikagbatse was on fire with his own 5 points to keep his team close. Conti pulled down a board to launch McCormack into the open court for an easy layup and a 38-34 lead halfway through the quarter. Udine improved his long-distance percentage, while Varese worked better on pick-and-roll situations, giving balls inside to Zanus Fortes, but the score was still close and the suspense growing. A jump hook scored by Jeff Stern tied the game on 43-43, then Andrea Meneghin netted his first three and Conti missed a short jumper at the bizzer for the 46-43 Varese advantage after 30 minutes.
Udine started the last quarter with a zone again, but paid with back-to-back threes by Meneghin and Larue, giving Varese its first seven-point lead, the total it needed to advance. Going back to man-to-man defense after a timeout helped Udine keep Varese's scoring down, but it could not score itself. So when Meneghin made a layup off a backdoor play, the hosts had a 56-47 advantage with 5 minutes, 17 seconds to go. Udine went again to a zone to slow things down, but a ball was stolen by Francesco Vescovi and his layup boosted the margin over 10 points, 60-49. Conti now killed the Snaidero zone with another jumper from the middle of the paint for 62-50 and with less than 3 minutes to go. In that time, Snaidero tried to attack for the six points it needed, but twice in a row Gorenc went out on fastbreaks to dunk the ball, the punctuation marks to his team's final victory and qualification to the quarterfinals.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003