Climamio Bologna pushed itself into a crowded fight for first place in Group F by registering just the third road win of the Top 16 so far, 81-82 over Zalgiris in Kaunas, Lithuania on Wednesday. The victory was priceless, too, as Climamio joins a three-way tie for the group lead with Tau Ceramica and Panathinaikos, all sharing a 2-1 record. Meanwhile, Zalgiris dropped to 0-3 and will need to win all its remaining games to keep its playoff dreams alive. Erazem Lorbek led the winners with 20 points. Ruben Douglas added 19 on 9-for-14 shooting, Milos Vujanic 18 points and 5 steals, and Gianluca Basile 10 more points for Climamio. Robert Pack paced Zalgiris with 29 points. Tanoka Beard posted a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, but missed a left-handed layup attempt in the closing seconds that would have given Zalgiris the win.
Vujanic tried to get Climamio started with a big block on Salenga. Even with that, both teams went scoreless for 2 minutes until Vujanic drew an unsportsmanlike foul on Beard. He scored free throws and added a catch-and-shoot three-pointer for a 0-5 Climamio lead. Timinskas slashed for a layup and Paulius Jankunas added a jump hook, igniting a 8-0 run that Salenga capped with a dunk for a 8-5 Zalgiris edge. Climamio went blank for more than 2 minutes until Douglas scored around the basket, but Beard had a big dunk at the other end to help Zalgiris keep a 10-7 edge. Douglas followed Basile's jumper with a layup to keep the guests alive, but Zalgiris was on fire. Timinskas fired in a triple and Pack added a breakway layup, as the hosts surged ahead 17-11. Climamio tried a small lineup with Stefano Mancinelli at power forward. He got a layup and a tip-in in traffic, while Lorbek's three-point play brought the guests within 20-18. Salenga took over with free throws and a corner triple, however, giving Zalgiris a 25-18 margin after 10 minutes.
Climamio opted for a four-guard lineup - Basile, Vujanic, Gianmarco Pozzecco and Marco Belinelli - early in the second quarter, and the risk paid off for a while. The guests used a 2-9 run in which Lorbek dunked it and added a big basket in the low post to tie the game at 27-27. Zalgiris got back on track following a timeout, as Beard scored in the paint and Vidas Ginevicius drilled a triple for a 32-27 edge. Climamio, now with two big men on the floor, did not panic. Rather, five different players scored in a 2-13 run that Douglas capped with a fastbreak dunk to give the guests a 34-40 lead. Beard scored around the basket, but Vujanic made free throws and Douglas a layup to preserve Climamio's advantage at 36-44. While Zalgiris could not find the way to the basket, Vujanic's floating layup fell through to establish a dougle-digit lead for Climamio, 36-46, at halftime.
Little changed early in the third quarter, as Basile followed Bagaric's basket with his second three-pointer for Climamio's biggest lead yet, 38-53. Beard and Salenga tried to lift Zalgiris, but Douglas made a layup to keep a 15-point Climamio lead, 40-55. And when Ainars Bagatskis banged a triple for the hosts, an unstoppable Douglas matched him at the other end. Zagiris only made up ground by improving its defense, and even though red-hot Douglas made an amazing stop-and-pop jumper, Zalgiris was now on fire. Pack fired in a three-pointer and Beard added free throws to bring the hosts within single digits, 52-60. Pack and Beard now cut the deficit to 56-62, but Vujanic's no-look pass for Lorbek turned into a three-point play that gave Climamio some fresh air. Pack came to the rescue for the hosts, scoring 8 points in the final 2 minutes, including a fastbreak layup that brought Zalgiris within 64-69 after 30 minutes.
Pack was still on fire early in the final quarter. To his running layup Paulius Jankunas scored a second-chance basket to bring Zalgiris within 70-72. Climamio struggled until Lorbek fired in a mid-range jumper, but Timinskas hit a driving layup and Pack 2 free throws to tie 74-74, with 4 minutes to go. Vujanic scored in penetration off a Climamio timeout and then Bagaric dunked to reestablish Climamio's edge at 75-78. Pack scored in the paint, and Zalgiris tried zone defense, but Basile scored in close for a 77-80 scoreboard with less than 2 minutes left. Next, Bagaric came out of nowhere to tip in a miss, giving Climamio a 77-82 lead with 51 seconds remaining. All seemed decided until Beard made free throws, after which Ginevicius quickly stole, hit a layup.and drew an offensive foul on Vujanic. Suddenly, Zalgiris was down by just 81-82 with the ball in its possession and 21.1 seconds left. It all came down to the final play, on which Beard missed a left-handed layup that allowed Climamio to escape from Kaunas as a co-leader in Group F.
Wednesday, March 9, 2005