Climamio Bologna continued to push for a chance to finish first in Group A when it came from behind to win its closest home game so far, 68-65 against visiting Union Olimpija. Climamio is now 9-4 and can finish by winning its final regular season game if group leader Tau Ceramica loses its own. Olimpija fell to 4-9 after leading much of the game and almost getting an upset that would have greatly improved its Top 16 chances. Olimpija must win its own last game and have several other results go its way to make the next round now. Marco Belinelli was big down the stretch and finished with 16 points to lead the winners, but it was Travis Watson's double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds that kept them close all night. Dalibor Bagaric and Thomas Ress added 11 points each for Climamio. Yotam Halperin again led Olimpija with 17 points. DeMarco Johnson added 13, but missed a pair of crucial free throws near the end, while Jimmy Oliver had 10 more points for the visitors.
Belinelli opened the game with a three-pointer off a screen while Halperin hit a jumper and fed Johnson for a 3-4 score after 2 minutes. Dalibor Bagaric’s baseline dunk put Climamio in front, but Halperin assisted Dragisa Drobnjak for another lead change. Back-to-back baskets from Ress gave the hosts a 9-6 edge. That's when Olimpija broke things open with a 0-10 run started by Johnson and capped by back-to-back triples from Halperin and Rannikko. After a Climamio timeout, Drobnjak and Manuchar Markoishvili added three-pointers to send Olimpija up by 11 points, 11-22. Watson was the only Climamio player to react as he scored inside and put back a rebound on the buzzer to fix a 17-23 score after 10 minutes.
Climamio freed its offense to start the second quarter as Ress and Stefano Mancinelli scored three-pointers to make it 23-26. Bagaric took the honor of tying the score, 26-26, with another baseline dunk. Olimpija responded with a triple from Oliver and Climamio switched to zone defense. Feeding Bagaric got Climamio closer, at 28-29, before Belinelli and Nate Green shot the hosts in front, 34-29, with three-pointers. Olimpija got right back on track with a 0-7 run capped by Halperin to lead 34-36. Halperin – who else? – drove the lane to break a new tie and then Rannikko extended Olimpijia's edge to 36-40 on foul shots. Ress finished a fastbreak but Olimpija added a free throw for a 38-41 lead at the half.
Olimpija’s ball circulation helped produce an easy layup by Johnson to open the second half. Ress and Watson brought Climamio nearer, at 42-43, before the defenses took over for 2 scoreless minutes. The guests got going again sooner as Halperin hit a floater and Johnson a basket-and-free throw for a six-point lead, 42-48. Big men Watson and Bagaric revived Climamio with a 6-1 run to within 48-49. Halperin, however, had other plans and finished a fastbreak to force a Climamio timeout. Bagaric and Climamio came within 50-51 after that before Oliver converted an offensive board into a bucket-and-free throw to make it 50-54 after 30 minutes.
Oliver's triple to start the final quarter pushed Olimpija ahead 7 points, 50-57. Climamio turned its fullcourt pressure on and stole twice to cut the lead down to 54-57. Markoisvhili and Van Den Hare scored from inside and restored a seven-point Olimpija advantage, 54-61. Tightening the hold with defense, Belinelli drove an 8-0 Climamio run, capped by a Mancinelli dunk, to put the hosts in front again at 62-61. After Halperin replied with a layup-and-free throw, Belinelli tied the game with a corner jumper. After another Olimpija free throw, Belinelli struck again for the arc to make it 67-65 with less than 2 minutes left. Missed chances from both sides included Johnson's 0-for-2 from the line with 33 seconds left. On the other end, Green scored his first free throw while Watson grabbed the miss on the second to secure a hard-fought 68-65 Climamio win.
Wednesday, February 1, 2006