Benetton Treviso didn't sweat at all on Wednesday evening to advance to the quarterfinal playoffs of the Euroleague, thanks to a resounding 51-85 road win at Prokom Trefl Sopot that made it champion of Group G. Benetton finished tied at 4-2 with Efes and AEK, all three with 2-2 marks against each other in head-to-head competition. In the next tiebreaker, point difference among them, Benetton placed first (+14), Efes second (+4) and AEK third (-18). By finishing first, Benetton will have homecourt advantage when it faces the second-place team from Group F, Tau Ceramica, in the best-of-three quarterfinals, starting April 5. Prokom finished 0-6 in Group G after having become the first Polish team ever to make it so far in the Euroleague. Ramunas Siskauskas led Benetton to big leads from the very start and finished with 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Massimo Bulleri added 15 points for the winners, Andrea Bargnani 12 and Marlon Garnett 10. For Prokom, Adam Wojcik had 13 points, while Andrija Ciric and Istvan Nemeth added 11 apiece.
Siskauskas opened first for Benetton and before long both Denis Marconato and Bulleri joined him for a quick 2-6 advantage. Wojcik had Prokom's first 4 points but Garnett's fastbreak layup kept a 4-10 cushion for the guests. Nemeth appeared for Prokom, but the hosts' zone defense couldn't keep Siskauskas from driving the lane and Garnett popping a long jumper to make it 7-17. After Prokom's first timeout, Wocjik scored again, but Benetton dominated the offensive glass with second, even third, options before a triple from Siskauskas pushed the lead to 9-20. Prokom continued struggling to score as only Wojcik got points now, at the line, while Matteo Soragna hit a layup and Andrea Bargnani a slam dunk to put Benetton ahead 15 points, 11-26, after 10 minutes.
Filip Dylewicz got Prokom started in the second quarter, but the hosts' strong man-to-man defense didn't impede Bargnani to score nor Garnett to extend the lead to 15-31 from the arc. Marconato broke a series of missed attacks for both teams with a three-point play underneath as Benetton's defense forced a shot-clock violation on Prokom and the gap went over 20 points, at 15-36. Andrija Ciric broke Prokom's scoring drought from downtown, but the Benetton defense otherwise stayed on full alert as Siskauskas found the bottom of the net with a clean jumper. Prokom managed to finally pass the 20-point mark with 20 seconds to go in the half on Ciric's new triple, but Siskauskas had enough time left for another basket that left a 21-40 scoreboard at the break.
Siskauskas opened the second half with free throws and Marcus Goree added a nifty jumper for 21-44. Prokom simply couldn't get by Benetton's defense until Nemeth ran free for a dunk at 23-44. Dylewicz followed with an easy triple as Benetton started to relax due to the big cushion in its favor. Nemeth joined in with a new triple, and with a good defense Prokom managed to trim the deficit to 29-44. But that didn't signal a comeback. Bulleri hit a jumper from the side and Siskauskas slammed to set off a 1-21 run that would finish the quarter leaving no doubts that the game was Benetton's. Bulleri, with a steal-and-layup followed by a triple, was the big gun, while Bargnani added 6 point of his own, including the fastbreak layup that made it 30-65 after 30 minutes.
Back-to-back triples from Wocjik and Ciric opened the last period for Prokom. Later Wojcik hit a layup for 38-67 and the hosts showed improved defense, but it was too late for them to try to win the game. Goree scored from the free throw line twice, and Mariusz Bacik hit his jumper in reply. But Siskauskas was on fire and scored again, having missed only one shot so far, David Bluthental found the way to the basket also and soon added a triple for that put the lead over 30 points again, 44-76. The outcome had been long clear, and Benetton only had to wait for the final buzzer to claim its spot in the quarterfinal playoffs.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005