Benetton Treviso survived a tense thriller to win its Group F opener 70-71 on the road at Cholet Basket on a Davor Kus triple at the buzzer. The exciting fourth quarter features six lead changes and two ties before Kus stepped up and granted the visitors the victory. Benetton had double-digit leads in the second and third quarters before Cholet came back behind a red-hot Sammy Mejia. The hosts went ahead 65-61 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, but All-Eurocup center Sandro Nicevic came through and tied the game twice. Randal Falker Falker thought he won the game for Cholet, but Benetton has enough time for a final shot that proved to the difference. Gary Neal scored 17 of his team-high 19 points for Benetton in the first half. Nicevic finished with 14 points and 3 blocks for the winners, Kus had 11 and C.J. Wallace 10 for Benetton, which hosts Crvena Zvezda next week. Mejia shined for Cholet with 29 points on excellent shooting, Antywane Robinson added 12 points and 9 rebounds, Arvydas Eitutavicius scored 11 and Falker tallied 8 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocked shots in defeat. Cholet seeks its first win on the road at Dynamo Moscow next week.
Benetton took charge early as Donatas Motiejunas and Wallace scored in the paint. Nearly two-and-a-half minutes passed before Fabien Causeur put Cholet on the scoreboard, but Neal made a three-pointer and then a jumper to up the Benetton lead to 3-9. Cholet bounced right back with back-to-back triples from Robinson and Mejia to tie the score at 9-9. Daniel Hackett corrected his own miss and Neal hit from downtown again as Benetton tried to pull away, but another Mejia three lept it close. But Neal’s third triple of the quarter was followed by a Nicevic basket to make it 16-23 after 10 minutes. The teams traded baskets at the start of the second quarter before Nicevic and Daniele Sandri scored back-to-back to give the visitors a double-digit lead. Falker and Causeur scored as Cholet clawed back to 26-31, but that was met by a Neal triple. Neal later converted a basket-plus-foul to increase the Benetton lead to 9 before Robinson answered from downtown to make it 33-39 at halftime.
Neal started the second half with a basket and Wallace added another to put Benetton ahead by 10. Cholet stormed back as Eitutavicius drained back-to-back three-pointers and Mejia added another. Then Eitutavicius set up Mejia for a two-point bucket that capped an 11-1 run and tied the game at 44-44. Kus ended Benetton’s drought with a triple for his first points, but Eitutavicius matched him. Jasmin Hukic and Motiejunas put the visitors ahead, but Cholet responded through a red-hot Mejia to go on top 55-51. Kus answered back with 3 free throws and Nicevic ended the quarter with a basket to give Benetton a 56-57 edge. With the pressure on, both teams tightened up and points were few, but nearly every basket provided a lead change early in the fourth quarter. The elad traded hands five teams until Mejia drilled a three-pointer that made it 63-61. Mejia added another basket as Cholet assumed control. However a pair of free throws from Wallace and misses from Mejia and Eitutavicius allowed Nicevic to tie the game at 65-65 with just over a minute to go. Mejia stepped up and drained a three-pointer to the delight of the crowd, however Nicevic matched him to tie it again. Falker came through to put Cholet ahead, but with time running out Kus hit from downtown to beat the buzzer and give Benetton a thrilling 70-71 road win.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009