Benetton survived a real thriller to stay unbeaten in Group A by outlasting Strasbourg 76-78 on the road in overtime on Wednesday. Benetton improved to 2-0 and shares the top spot in the Group A standings, while Strasbourg dropped to 0-2 despite having big chances to win. Marco Mordente led the winners with 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting before fouling out in the final seconds of regulation time. Drew Nicholas had 14 points, Nikos Zisis and Marcus Goree each scored 12 while Matteo Soragna added 11 for Benetton. Zelly Wesson posted a double-double for Strasbourg with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Ricardo Greer had 12 points, John McCord 11 and Jeff Greer 10 for the hosts, while Aymeric Jeanneau dished 11 assists. Mordente had 18 of his 20 points in the final 14 minutes of regulation time, including 2 free throws which sent the game to overtime, 69-69. It all came down to final play in the extra period, but Jeff Greer missed a game-winning three-point attempt and Benetton, despite playing without star scorer Rimaunus Siskauskas, escaped with a valuable road win.
Strasbourg tried to look inside for Wesson early, but Benetton's defense took control of the game. Meanwhile, Goree opened fire with a bank shot and Petar Popovic added free throws for a 0-4 Benetton lead. Strasbourg went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Young combined a corner three-pointer with a driving layup to give the hosts their first lead, 5-4. Soragna answered from downtown - twice - for Benetton, and offset Ricardo Greer's tip-in for Strasbourg to give the guests a 7-10 lead. It didn't last long. It was Strasbourg's turn to play physical defense while Wesson scored a three-pointer among his 5 points in a 7-0 run that sent the hosts in front, 14-10. Zizis and Goree came to the rescue for Benetton, splitting the points in a 0-10 response that helped pushed Benetton in front by 16-22 after 10 minutes.
While Strasbourg tried a matchup zone early in the second quarter, guard Aymeric Jeanneau came on to nail triple and bring the hosts within 19-22. Soragna fueled the Benetton offense with a long two-pointer, but John McCord scored in the paint and Wesson added a tip-in to make it 23-24. Benetton now struggled, going scoreless for more than 3 minutes, while a coast-to-coast layup by McCord gave Strasbourg a new lead, 25-24. After Benetton also switched to a zone defense, Nicholas buried a three-pointer off the dribble, putting the guests in front again, 25-27. After Goree and Andrea Bargnani blocked shots for Benetton, Nicholas buried yet another triple for his personal 0-8 run and a 25-32 Benetton lead. Wesson tried to rescue Strasbourg with a short hook but Zisis stepped up with a three-point play that kept Benetton up 29-36 at halftime.
Palmer opened the second half with a basket inside while Wesson followed his trademark jump hook with a fastbreak layup putting Strasbourg as close as 35-36. Soragna woke up Benetton with his third three-pointer and Popovic scored in the paint to make it 37-41 score. Strasbourg was confident, however, and Palmer's layup ignited a 8-0 run in which scored again, giving the hosts a 45-41 lead. After a Benetton timeout, Mordente became the guests' go-to guy with a big triple from the top. Even when a red-hot Palmer made another jumper, Mordente found a corner triple to tie 47-47. Ricardo Greer answered with a long two-pointer for Strasbourg, while Wesson's free throws and Young's floating jumper left the hosts ahead 55-52 after three quarters.
McCord shined early in the final period with a driving layup, a high-flying rebound and a tough fallaway jumper to keep Strasbourg in charge, 59-54. But then Goree and Mordente combined to tie 59-59, and Strasbourg needed a timeout to organized its offense. Jeff Greer followed McCord's free throw with a two-handed dunk to restore a 62-59 edge, but Mordente with an easy layup and Nicholas with a three-pointer took the lead back for Benetton, 63-64. Jeff Greer answered them from the arc, while Wesson gave Strasbourg a 68-64 edge inside with less than 3 minutes remaining. Goree's 3 points kept Benetton alive at 69-67, then Mordente grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to tie, 69-69, with 1:16 remaining. The best chance after that saw McCord miss 2 free throws with 23.6 seconds left, while Nicholas had a big block on Ricardo Greer, sending the game to overtime.
McCord scored in the paint to open the extra period, but Zisis matched that with a running layup. Wesson worked for a reverse layup and Ricardo Greer copied him as Strasbourg shot ahead 75-71. After Zisis drew a foul and sank both free throws, however, Jeanneau and Ricardo Greer missed 3 of 4 for the hosts. When Nicholas made his pair at th eline, Benetton was within 76-75. Uros Slokar stepped up with the go-ahead basket in the paint, making it 76-77 Benetton with 40 seconds remaining. Zisis drew a key offensive foul, but Nicholas missed 1 of 2 free throws, giving Strasbourg a chance, but Jeff Greer's game-winning three-point try at the buzzer missed, sending Benetton home the winner.
Thursday, November 10, 2005