Climamio Bologna clinched first place in Group A at the end of the regular season by edging Real Madrid 79-81 on the road Thursday night. Climamio finished with a 12-2 record and became group champion due to its tie-break advantage over Efes Pilsen, also 12-2. Madrid dropped to 7-7 and finished fourth. A reverse layup by Stefano Mancinelli sealed the outcome with 3.1 seconds to go. Milos Vujanic led the winners with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Ruben Douglas added 17 points, Erazem Lorbek 15 off the bench while Dalibor Bagaric had 10 for Climamio. Louis Bullock led Real Madrid with 27 points, while Axel Hervelle added 17. Madrid overcame a 15-point deficit in the final period.
Rancik opened fire with a three-pointer from the top of the circle and Climamio started with very physical defense as Dalibor Bagaric intimidated the hosts inside. Vujanic soon followed a short jumper with free throws to give Climamio a quick 2-7 margin. Douglas dunked soon after that, and Madrid could not find a basket until Burke stepped up with a jump hook. Even with that, Climamio continued to excel at defense, with 3 blocks and 4 steals midway through the quarter. Bagaric added a put-back dunk and a basket in the paint to force a Madrid timeout at 6-13. The hosts improved once Bennett stepped on court. He fed Burke for a three-point play which ignited a 9-0 run in which Bullock and Hervelle fired in one shot apiece from downtown to bring Madrid within 15-16 after 10 minutes.
Bullock scored free throws early in the second quarter for Madrid's first lead, 17-16. Erazem Lorbek tried to change things with a left-handed layup for Climamio, but Madrid was now on fire. Hervelle found a three-point play in the paint and added another close basket, while Antonio Bueno scored in transition for a 24-18 Madrid edge. Gianluca Basile gave Climamio some fresh air with a bomb from downtown, Lorbek added a layup while Vujanic followed a corner three with a fastbreak layup to put the guests back in charge, 26-28. As Madrid continued to struggle against the guests' 2-3 zone, a second-chance basket by Lorbek and a jumper by Stefano Mancinelli capped a 3-14 run that gave Climamio a 27-32 edge. Douglas followed Simone Cotani's alley-oop layup with a corner three to give Climamio a 31-39 lead at halftime.
Madrid used a three-guard lineup early in the third and it paid off, as Bullock and Bennett combined for 5 quick points to bring the hosts with 36-40. Climamio got back on track by controlling the boards, while Douglas nailed a corner triple and Lorbek a three-point play to extend the guests' margin to double digits, 36-46. Bullock and Bennett stepped up with consecutive threes, but a very active Vujanic helped Climamio to keep a 46-55 margin. Douglas then took over with a triple and free throws to make it a 14-point game, 46-60. Burke came to the rescue with a three-point play, but little else changed for Madrid. Bagaric added 2 quick baskets and Alessandro Piazza posted a three-point play to give the guests a 52-67 margin after 30 minutes, by which time Douglas had 17 points and Vujanic 16.
Madrid tried to get back in the game early in the final quarter as Bullock's jumper ignited a 7-0 run that he capped with a fastbreak layup. Climamio called timeout at 59-69 and soon found Lorbek for a six-meter jumper and Bagaric added inside to sustain a 59-73 advantage. Moustapha Sonko took over with a bomb from downtown and a basket-plus-free throw, while Hervelle added a breakaway dunk to make it a six-point game, 67-73. Nothing seemed to work for Climamio now, while the hosts were on fire. Felipe Reyes scored in the paint, then Hervelle and Bullock made one shot each from downtown to tie the game, 75-75, with 3 minutes to go. Mancinelli made a tip-in for Climamio, but free throws by Hervelle and a short jumper by Bullock put Madrid back in front, 79-77. Lorbek stepped up then with a five-meter jumper, while Mancinelli became the hero with his game-winning reverse layup with 3.1 seconds to go, enough for Climamio to enter the Top 16 as the Group A champion.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Kostas Sotiriou, Athens