Adecco Estudiantes turned back Roseto 84-68
Adecco Estudiantes rallied from an eight-point deficit after one game to charge into the ULEB Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday by staking a commanding 84-68 win against visiting Euro of Roseto. The 16-point margin overthrew the 8 points by which Roseto had won their first game, 80-72, in Italy, meaning that Estudiantes moves on to face another Italian opponent, Metis Varese, in the next round. The hero of Tuesday's blowout victory was Nacho Azofra, who scored 15 points, including 5 in the final minute that helped decide the series. Felipe Reyes added 15 for the winners while shooter Nikola Loncar contributed 14 and Adam Keefe posted a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds. Roseto had to say goodbye to the ULEB Cup after a real struggle, paying most of all for the bad shooting percentage (22 for 55, 40%), a rebounding disadvantage (37-27) and 18 turnovers. Roseto got 14 points from Diego Fajardo, 13 from Rodney Monroe, 12 from Ben Davis and 10 from Juan Manuel Moltedo.
Estudiantes started very aggressive, trying to protect the basket and taking an early lead on rebounds. Veteran Nikola Loncar sparkled and set the flame for Spanish hosts, who took an early 12-7 lead in the first quarter. Marko Milic and Moltedo tried to stop the first run, but Estudiantes found points on the break also, and with Loncar, Carlos Jimenez and Keefe leading a 13-0 run was able to take a double-digit lead, 25-14, at the end of 10 minutes. Monroe carried his team back into the game with 11 points in the first 7 minutes of the second period, tying the score 3 minutes before intermission, 33-33. He well supported by guard Alessandro Davolio and Davis on the inside. Estudiantes tried to answer with a 6-0 run led by Reyes, while Roseto scored just a free throw in the last 3 minutes of the quarter. As such, Estudiantes closed the first half with 7 points to defend, 41-34.
That lead gained in the first half by Estudiates was a gap that Roseto was never able to fill up in the second half. Estudiantes always tried to deepen the lead, but Roseto always responded to the hosts' efforts, stopping all the attempts to run away until the end of the third quarter, when Azofra pulled the Spanish hosts to another double-digit gap. Estudiantes entered the last quarter with a 16-point lead, 64-48, thanks also to Keefe, while Roseto could find a good contribution only by Fajardo and Davis. Monroe stopped scoring, but Roseto's defense was hanging on and with important baskets by the centers, the gap was reduced all the way back to 6 points, 69-63. Reyes rescued his team in the last quarter, scoring a couple of layups for another 5-0 run to 74-63. Estudiantes almost killed the game on Corey Brewer's triple for 77-63. Davis gave the guests a chance once again at 79-68 with little more than 1 minute to go, but Fajardo was fouled out. After Monroe fouled Azofra, and the Spanish vet nailed all the free throws, giving back a 14-point lead to his team, 82-68. With time dwindling, Moltedo missed a three-pointer, Keefe grabbed the rebound, and Azofra was fouled once again. His hand was calm from the line, and the Estudiantes fans could celebrate.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003