On a night when home teams dominated their opening games in the Top 16, Benetton Treviso completely turned away its guests from Scavolini Pesaro 94-66 to take an early lead in Group E. With all pistons firing at home in Treviso, Benetton eased away early in the game and refused to let Scavolini get close thereafter. Again, Benetton's sweet-shooting big men had a say as Marcelo Nicola turned up 18 points including a pair of third-quarter three pointers that prevented any Scavolini comeback. Sergei Chikalkin, hot early, led all scorers with 19, while veteran Riccardo Pittis was everywhere, collecting 17 points, 6 rebounds, 6 steals and 5 assists. Larry Middleton and DeMarco Johnson found 12 points each for Scavolini, while Michele Maggioli and Silvio Gigena added 10 each. Benetton goes 1-0 in Group E and Scavolini 0-1.
Michele Maggioli started in the middle for Scavolini, while Benetton coach Mike D'Antoni aligned Denis Marconato, eschewing his habitual lineup without center. The game started with easy shots missed by both teams, and it was DeMarco Johnson who opened the scoring with a mid-range jumper for Scavolini. Marconato finally got Benetton going, and when it did, the home team did not look back. The Greens kept on running until they had a 17-10 lead on a Chikalkin three-pointer. Pittis drove to the rim for a 22-12 lead and drew the second foul of Maggioli, who to that point had 6 of his team's 12 points. Benetton managed to improve its advantage to a high of 27-14 before closing the first period with 27-16 on the scoreboard.
Melvin Booker hadn't scored at all for Scavolini in the first 10 minutes, and Andrea Pecile replaced him at the point in the second. After poor shooting early, coach Stefano Pillastrini tried the two of them together. But finally it was Benetton and Pittis, with a jumper, who restarted the scoreboard. Pittis was the man from that point forward. He scored, stole the ball and distributed assists to help his team mantain a 13-point lead through the middle of the period. Scavolini could not find its shots and compounded the problem by committing turnovers. Those led to good open shots for the hosts, who went to the locker room leading 44-31. Chikalkin had posted 12 points by then, Pittis 9 plus 5 steals. Maggioli had bagged 10 points and Larry Middleton 7 for the guests.
Chikalkin caught serious fire to start the third period, posting a long-distace shot and two free throws to boost Benetton's advantage to a whopping 49-31. Scavolini tried to come back but failed on several opportunities to trim the deficit to 10. Chikalkin went off with a slight ankle injury, but D'Antoni called on Pittis, who immediately assisted Jorge Garbajosa on a three-pointer. Scavolini aligned a 3-2 zone defense, but Marcelo Nicola stabbed it with his own three. Marconato slammed the ball before the period finished 64-44 on another Nicola triple. The last period was just a means to the end. Nothing changed on the floor, as Scavolini could not find the first step toward a miracle and Benetton fled happily to the finish with its crowd delighted by the wide margin.
Wednesday, February 27, 2002
Romano Petitti, Treviso