Caprabo Lleida made a big move in Group D on Tuesday evening by beating leader Metis Varese, 82-78, in a game that was decided only in the last minute, even though the hosts had always been ahead with moderate leads. Two old pros were the protagonists of the game, one for each side. Alberto Angulo was the ace for the hosts, scoring 30 points including 16 of 16 free throws. For the guests, Boris Gorenc also hit 30 points and kept his team alive until the last moments. Also for Lleida, A.J. Bramlett added 17 points, while Francesco Vescovi contributed 17 more for Varese. The win leaves the Spaniards at 3-3 in the group, good for a third-place tie with Charleroi, while Metis Varese falls to 4-2 and can no longer claim first place exclusively.
The hosts started stomping on court for an early 12-7 lead thanks to Michael Ruffin and his power under the boards. For Varese though, Boris Gorenc emerged as the main offensive pillar. The hosts took constant trips to the free throw line but the lack of accuracy mainly by Ruffin, didn't allow Lleida to pull ahead. A 0-for-7 series from the long range for the guests marked Varese's luck in the quarter while Lleida sank a 5 of 6 from the paint. After 10 minutes, the score was 25-18. In the second quarter three players of Varese were called for their third fouls early, Diego Osella, Shawnelle Scott and Cristiano Zanus Fortes, but the guests changed to a zone defense that forced Lleida to take long range shots that didn't go in. The change of floor leader to Jaume Comas put more speed in the game of the hosts, but Gorenc, who would end the first half with 19 points, was still there to keep the Italians behind and biting. Angulo shot 10 of 10 from the charity line as the teams went to the break 42-39. The hosts had already shot in 19 of 31 free throws in the first 20 minutes.
Osella left the playing floor early due to his fourth foul as Bramlett put the 46-39 in minute 22, made 49-39 with a three by Angulo from the corner that sealed the 7-0 run. The tough defense of the Italians brought in fouls that became the main enemy of Varese. Also a tight defense by Lleida forced the guests to play long options without ideas. The hosts tried it with the fastbreaks, but the Italian defense re-organized fast and the easy options were never achieved. Ryan McCormack hit 4 straight points, but Angulo was hot, and when he did not hit a three, he drew a foul or even had some more time to shoot a 16 of 16 free throws. Francesco Vescovi though, hit for almost two consecutive three-pointers that pulled Varese within 6 points, 64-58, after 30 minutes. A monster dunk by Ruffin for 68-60 early in the fourth lit the stands of the Barris Nord pavillion. Lleida was winning the battle under the boards, but that wasn't translated on the scoreboard as it was 72-66 with 5 minutes to go. With Scott on the bench, the paint game of Varese virtually disappeared and due to the lack of accuracy in the field goal shooting, the Italians could not help but depend on Gorenc again, who left his team at 72-69 with a 3-point play. Lleida tried again with a strong defense that allowed Sergio Ramos to run the fastbreak for baskets or fouls, but Vescovi and Gorenc would keep things balanced for the final minute, 76-76 after yet another three by the former. Ramos hit one from the charity line, but a quick three missed by Varese allowed Lleida for the 80-78 and 20 seconds to go. Gorenc would shoot the last ball that could save the game for the guests, but a steal by Angulo that ended with an alley oop with Bramlett sealed the win at 82-78.
Tuesday, December 3, 2002