Red Star advanced to the ULEB Cup Last 16 round by sweeping its Last 32 series against Benetton Tamoil Treviso. Red Star rallied from a 15-point deficit in the final 9 minutes to edge Benetton Tamoil 82-83 in the 2nd leg Treviso, Italy on Tuesday. Red Star had beaten Benetton 81-71 in the 1st leg of this two-way series in Belgrade, Serbia. As such, Red Star is now ready to face Besiktas Cola Turka in the next round. Tadija Dragicevic paced the winners with 24 points. Omar Cook added 23 on 15-for-16 free throws while Steven Markovic had 12 for Red Star. Nana Mensah-Bonsu led Benetton with 21 points and 13 rebounds. John Lucas added 19 points while Reece Gaines had 12. An outstanding Dragicevic allowed Red Star to control the game since the early going and his third triple gave his team a 16-28 margin early in the third quarter. Red Star kept a 40-48 lead at halftime but Benetton improved its defense right after the break. Meanwhile, Gaines, Lucas and Mensah-Bonsu fueled a 13-0 run that gave Benetton a 67-53 margin early in the fourth quarter. The series were tied, 74-64, with 3 minutes to go. Cook buried consecutive three-pointers in the next-to-last minute and added 8-for-8 free throws in the final seconds to not only win the series, but allow Red Star to escape with a road triumph.
Mario Austin shined with an early basket but Red Star did not panic at all and found its usual go-to guys. Cook and Dragicevic had 4 points apiece in a 0-9 run that gave the guests a 2-9 margin. Benetton had been scoreless for more than 4 minutes until Lucas found an easy basket but Dragicevic answered from downtown for a 4-12 Red Star edge. Austin and Marko Lekic traded layups while Lucas score again to bring Benetton within 8-14. A three-pointer by Angelo Gigli brought the hosts even closer, 12-16. Dragicevic scored around the basket while Markovic sank a three-pointer for a 12-21 Red Star margin. Another triple by Dragicevic allowed the guests to keep a 16-24 lead after 10 minutes. An unstoppable Dragicevic followed a free throw with his third triple to give the guests a 16-28 margin. Mensah-Bonsu tried to ignit the Benetton comeback with a layup while Matteo Soragna and Lionel Chalmers stroke from downtown to bring the hosts within 24-31. Mlajden Sljivancanin buried a triple but Mensah-Bonsu and Chalmers brought Benetton even closer, 32-34. Dragicevic stepped up again for Red Star while a free throw by Miroslav Raicevic gave the guests a 34-42 lead. Elmedin Kikanovic and Raicevic allowed Red Star to keep a 40-48 margin at halftime.
Benetton improved its defense right after the break and Red Star now struggled to find open shots. Meanwhile, another close basket by Mensah-Bonsu sparked a 7-0 run that Reece Gaines capped with a bomb from downtown to give Benetton its first lead since the opening basket, 49-48. Raicevic stroke from downtown but he didn't find much help around. Meanwhile, Gaines and Mensah-Bonsu brought Benetton back in the series, 54-51. Boris Bakic took over with a put-back layup but Austin stroke from beyond the arc and Benetton readjusted its defense. Meanwhile, Gaines shined with consecutive baskets while Lucas fired in a three-pointer to give the hosts the lead in the series, 65-53, at the end of the third quarter. Mensah-Bonsu capped a 13-0 run with a layup early in the fourth quarter. Bakic and Markovic tried to change things for Red Star but Lucas scored again and Soragna added a triple for a 15-point Benetton lead, 72-57. Bakic and Cook made free throws while Markovic buried a three-pointer to tie the series, 74-64, with 3 minutes remaining. Raicevic and Austin traded free throws while Dragicevic scored for a 75-67 Red Star deficit. Cook buried a critical three-pointer and even when Lucas scored, Cook stroke again from downtown to seal the outcome of the series, 77-73, with a minute to go. An unsportsmanlike foul on Chalmers and a double technical foul on the Benetton bench allowed Cook and Red Star to get a road win and sweep the series.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008