Kristaps Valters hit the game-winning triple with a few seconds to go to give Snaidero Udine a 75-73 win over Group B co-leaders Strasbourg, on Tuesday in Italy. Snaidero raised its record to 3-3 to take a share of third place in the group with Ventspils, while Strasbourg dropped to 4-2 in second place. Strasbourg made an 8-20 run in the first quarter, highlighted by an incredible shooting performance from Michael Smith, to build a 19-30 cushion, but Snaidero raced back with a 10-2 run in the second period to climb within 31-35. The visitors escaped with a 39-48 cushion at halftime, but the hosts didn't give up. A 13-2 run put Udine ahead 59-57 late in the third quarter. Snaidero built a 68-62 margin early in the last quarter, Strasbourg answered and went ahead 72-73 but then Valters scored the game-winning triple to the delight of the local fans. Valters led the way for Snaidero with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists, Michele Antonutti chipped in 10 and Joel Zacchetti and Christian Di Giuliomaria nailed 9 apiece. Michael Smith led Strasbourg with 23 points – 21 in the first half on seven three-pointers. John McCord added 13 points and 8 rebounds, while Lonnie Cooper had 9 and Aerick Sanders 8 with 9 boards.
Cooper and Antonutti scored their respective team's opening baskets after two scoreless minutes. Antonutti added 4 more for Snaidero, but Smith bagged his first two triples to boost Strasbourg to 9-10 through midway the quarter. Damon Williams found easy points in the open court to swing the lead back to 11-10 Udine, but Smith was on fire and with back-to-back threes pushed Strasbourg to 11-16. Cooper added a bucket before Di Giuliomaria answered for the hosts. Smith remained unstoppable with his sixth three-pointer on six attempts to give Strasbourg a 16-27 cushion. Valters hit one from downtown to reduce the difference, but Afik Nissim's free throws fixed the score at 19-30 at the end of the first quarter. After 3 quiet minutes early in second quarter, Antonutti made a dunk. Cooper answered from downtown to go up 21-33. Zacchetti, Valters and Larry O'Bannon put together a 10-2 run to take a 31-35 lead, but immediately McCord and Cooper answered to make it 31-39. Back-to-back triples from Smith and Dirk Madrich gave the visiting side a 33-45 lead with a minute-and-a-half till halftime. Filiberto Dri scored 4 points in the last minute to fix the score at 39-48 for the guests at halftime.
McCord and Smith helped to maintain a double-digit margin back from the lockers, but Valters put Snaidero in charge from downtown and Williams reduced the cushion from the foul line by to 46-52. McCord boosted Strasbourg again and Zacchetti, who replaced Williams, scored inside for 49-55, then Di Giuliomaria exploded with 4 straight points and Snaidero was back on track at 53-57. Valters from downtown and Zacchetti completed a 13-2 run to take the lead on 59-57 with less than 3 minutes left in the quarter. Madrich tied the score from the foul line, but Valters hit another three pushing Udine to 62-59. Williams made a basket to keep Snaidero ahead 64-62 after 30 minutes. Jacob Jaacks slammed the ball early in the last quarter and Williams fueled Snaidero in the open court, as the hosts' lead swelled to 68-62. Nissim and Sanders got Strasbourg quickly within 68-66, but then O'Bannon stopped lifted Snaidero to 72-66. However the game wasn't over and Nissim's triple made it 72-70 with less than two minutes left. Sanders tied it with a pair of free throws, and Claude Marquis made just one of two from the line to give Strasbourg the lead, but Valters hit the game-winning triple to allow the home fans to celebrate a 75-73 win.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006