Scavolini Pesaro gave Group E a whole new look on Wednesday by storming into Bologna and taking a surprisingly strong 73-86 victory away from Skipper. Scavolini ran out to a 0-9 lead to start the game and pretty much never looked back, although Skipper was able to pull within four points at the beginning of the final quarter. Scavolini responded with a 2-13 run right then, and rallied to lead by 20 again before it was over. Melvin Booker led a three-point shooting drill for the winners and finished with 25 points. Larry Middleton added 16 points, Brad Traina 11 and Silvio Gigena 10. Joseph Blair looked as he had in the early part of the season by dominating the middle with a double double of 15 points and 17 rebounds. Gregor Fucka was the main man again for Skipper with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Giacomo Galanda added 17 points and Marko Milic 10. Both teams are now 1-2 after three games and will await Thursday's result between Barcelona (1-1) and Benetton (2-0) to find out just how they stand in the group.
The first lead of the game was for Scavolini, and it was a confidence-builder; 0-9, with the visitors forcing Skipper into some off-balance shots, taking down the rebounds and getting out onto successful fastbreaks. Giacomo Galanda tried to get Skipper back with 5 points of his own, but turnovers continued to plague Fortitudo's offense and Scavolini just kept going. With Booker, Gigena and Middleton dropping three-pointers along the way, the visitors stretched their lead to 7-21 and then 12-28 as the home crowd at Paladozza waited for some reaction from Skipper. Scavolini's half-court defense was as good as it's offense, with double teams on everything Skipper threw into the low post rattling the locals. Skipper coach Matteo Boniciolli tried almost every player on his bench, but Scavolini owned the game in the first quarter, leading by an amazing 17 points, 13-30, after 10 minutes.
Skipper started the second quarter switching to a 2-3 zone defense. Initially, Scavolini continued to find open shots, but as the opportunities decreased, Skipper had the chance to come back into the game. So Scavolini chose its own zone, but now it was Skipper seeing open shots. When Claudio Pilutti came in and sank a three-pointer for the home team, it seemed that a new game might come of it, as Skipper was back within 24-36, a shot away from single digits. But suddenly Brad Traina answered from three-point territory against Skipper's zone, then connected from the perimeter again to get Scavolini unstuck. The visitors were able to conserve most of their first quarter lead by the end of the half, heading into the lockers ahead 25-40. Booker was leading the way with 12 points.
After the break, Skipper roared back into the game thanks to great intensity and individual heroics by Galanda, who hit 2 triples to drag the deficit under 10 points for the first time since the early going. Three-pointers had swayed things in Scavolini's favor, and even now Booker and Middleton kept the visitors ahead with some long-distance accuracy, but Skipper was in the game. And when Davor Marcelic measured his own shot from beyond the arc, and made it, the home team was able to see the light of a 54-60 deficit after 30 minutes.
Skipper stole the first possession of the last quarter, and scored with Marcelic. But then Skipper was outscored 2-13; Pesaro took the measure of the zone defense lined up by Skipper and found 3 more open three-pointers from Middleton and Booker. Skipper made the maximum effort before the run made by Scavolini, but Pesaro had patience enough on offense to not only withstand the home team's rally, but to turn it back. Blair stole and dunked, giving the visitors 15 points to defend with 5 minutes to go (58-73). That was the key run, but Scavolini also reached 20 points on 61-81. It was then a matter of how much, not if, and Skipper was able to get 13 points back by the finish, and the faint hope that those few points recovered might be needed in an eventual tie.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002