Scavolini steered itself into a three-way tie for second place in Group B by holding onto a tense 86-82 decision over visiting Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday in Pesaro, Italy. The victory, powered by another big scoring night from Charles Smith and saved by a big rebound by Marko Milic, boosted Scavolini's record to 3-2. That's good enough to tie both Montepaschi and Barcelona in second place. Zalgiris lost the same opportunity as its record fell to 2-3. Smith fired in 30 points for the winners on 7-for-12 two-point and 5-for-11 three-point shooting. Hanno Mottola added 14 points, Milic 12 and 7 rebounds. Tanoka Beard once again anchored Zalgiris with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Robert Pack and Dainius Salenga added 18 points each and Paulius Jankunas 11.
A fastbreak dunk by Jankunas got Zalgiris started, but Smith erased it with his first triple. Zalgiris ran the floor well, however, and a triple from Salenga among several transition baskets had the guests in front, 5-11, in minute 7. When Beard added a basket on a good move inside, Scavolini needed a timeout, after which Alessandro Frosini and Smith scored on a baseline jumper and a floater in the lane, respectively. Soon, Mottola was nailing 5 points in a row as Scavolini was back in the game at 14-16. Zalgiris would expand the gap as Beard put back an offensive rebound and even struck from downtown, helping the guests hold a 22-27edge after 10 minutes.
The second quarter saw Smith and Pack going nose-to-nose, while young promise Martynas Andriuskevicius added a foul shot following an offensive rebound to a 0-5 Zalgiris run good for a 27-33 lead. The Pesaro crowd welcomed Aleksandar Djordjevic back to the Euroleague and were rewarded when he drove to the rim and then assisted on a Mottola dunk to bring Scavolini within 32-35. A Rannikko-to-Smith fastbreak soon cut the difference to a single point, 36-37. Smith then tied it from downtown, 39-39, and Scavolini's improved defense forced Zalgiris into a shot clock violation. Matteo Malaventura sank a clutch three for Scavolini's first lead then Smith added 4 of his 19 first-half points to send the hosts to the lockers ahead 46-41.
Pack started the second half with a successful drive, but Mottola's triple would set Scavolini's highest lead at 49-43. Zalgiris reacted with a 1-10 behind big men Jankunas and Beard to take a 50-53 lead on a fastbreak by Salenga in minute 24. Smith - who else? - evened the score again from the arc, then Tomas Ress and Milic made a couple of reverse buckets to put the hosts up 57-54. Salenga evened it now for Zalgiris, shooting over Scavolini's 3-2 zone, but that tie was broken by Rannikko shot from 8 meters. Djordjevic struck from downtown, too, before Pack answered from the arc to trim Scavolini's advantage to 67-65 after 30 minutes.
Djordevic attacked the last quarter with a three-pointer, 70-65, then Milic pushed its lead to its maximum, 72-65, before Vidas Ginevicius sank a triple. Milic was on fire and made an amazing tap-in dunk, then drove to the rim assisted by Frosini. Milic then made it 6 straight points and Scavolini was up 76-70 with 7 minutes to play. After Jankunas hit a jumper, Smith and Milic sent Scavolini on a 5-0 run as the Zalgiris defenders looked tired. Scavolini, meanwhile, dove on the floor for three loose balls, but just when the crowd was stirring, Mindaugas Timinskas froze it with a jumper and Salenga shocked it with a three. With 2 minutes left, Zalgiris was within 81-77. Smith penetrated to boost the lead points, but Aigars Bagatskis came cold from the bench and sank a three for an 83-80 scoreboard. When Milic missed inside and Beard tapped in at the other end, the margin was down to 83-82. No doubt tired, too, Smith missed 2 free throws with 4 seconds to play, but Milic grabbed the rebound and Rannikko finished off a big win with 3 foul shots.
Thursday, December 2, 2004