Benetton Treviso recorded a crucial home win over Aris TT Bank on Wednesday night to remain in the hunt for a spot in the Quarterfinal Playoffs from Group G. Preston Shumpert scored 17 to lead Benetton, which improved to 3-2 in the standings. The Italian champs will now wait to see what happens in Thursday's game between group rivals Dynamo Moscow and Unicaja to know what it needs to do next week to advance. Meanwhile Aris, which already last week lost all chances to reach the playoffs, fell to 0-5 in the Top 16 and lost its seventh consecutive Euroleague game dating back to the regular season. Benetton came out strong and quickly established a double-digit advantage, which it held on to for most part for the rest of the game. Aris closed the game a few times, but never enough to cause real concern for the hosts. Spencer Nelson came off the bench for 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Marco Mordente, Nikos Zizis and Matteo Soragna added 13 each. Soragna was also good for 6 assists. Alex Scales paced Aris with 14 points and 9 rebounds, Giorgos Sigalis had 11 points and Jeremiah Massey 10.
Aris opened fire first through Massey but Angelo Gigli replied. Dimitris Tsaldaris and Shumpert then exchanged threes 5-5. Massey responded for Aris before Gigli scored from downtown for a great start and when Mordente converted a three-point play fresh off the bench, Benetton had pulled away to 12-7. Nelson scored from the foul line before Sigalas strangely unmarked combined with Scales to reduce the gap. However Zizis and Mordente were on hand to reestablish a 7-point margin. Shumpert’s second bomb of the night gave Benetton a double-digit advantage and a Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf three was canceled by 4 quick points by Nelson to fixing the score at 25-14 after 10 minutes.
A great play by Bryant Smith got the second quarter started as Aris was misfiring from all angles. Things kept going wrong for the visitors as they accumulated fouls and slipped 15 points behind. However Benetton then got get sloppy on offense and Aris took advantage through Georgios Kalaitzis, Sigalas and Scales to get within 9, prompting Treviso coach David Blatt to call a timeout. Soragna tried to reassure his coach, but Massey drew a foul from Marcus Goree to complete a three-point play that made it 31-23. Mordente’s jumper was then met by a three from Sigalas as the gap closed to 35-29 with 3 minutes on the clock. That’s when Shumpert and Zizis took charge again. A couple of buckets later and the home team headed to the locker room leading 43-33 at halftime.
Soragna scored the first basket of the second half, however Aris replied with 5 quick points to get within 45-38. Two points by Shumpert on the break were then met by a spectacular hook by Massey. Zizis kept hurting his Greek national teammates and when Goree connected from beyond the arc, 10 points were separating the two teams again. Tsaldaris fired in a three of his own to keep his team in the game. But Soragna and Shumpert combined to put Benetton 12 up, causing Aris coach Andrea Mazzon to call his players for a chat. The crowd could not believe the magical pass Soragna dished to Nelson in traffic. Soragna continued to shine with another assist to Mordente for a 62-48 lead. Yannis Giannoulis and Massey worked hard underneath to keep Aris’s hopes alive, but Mordente knocked down a killer three at the buzzer, handing his team a 65-51 advantage entering the last quarter.
Soragna started the fourth quarter where he left off, firing a three before Goree executed a master block. The guests’ last hopes were left not surprisingly on Scales’s shoulders, as he made a three-point play. Abdul-Rauf followed suit to make it a 12-point game with an eternity to go. As the Benetton got sluggish, Nelson scored a basket-plus-foul to reestablish a 15-point margin. The game was slipping away from Aris's hands. Nevertheless, Aris continued to fight hard and even arguing with the referees with only 4 minutes from a probable defeat. Scales's fierce dunk was met by a clean jumper by Zizis. Kevin Fletcher took the floor and scored, but Shumpert kept them at bay as the seconds ticked away and the gap was not lessening, allowing the fans to celebrate a crucial Benetton win.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007