A game of swings between experienced clubs in Group C saw visiting Benetton Basket Tamoil rally from 16 points behind after halftime to down Besiktas JK Cola Turka 72-77 in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday. The good-as-gold comeback victory was led by a former Besiktas player, center Sandro Nicevic, whose 19 points paced Benetton. Besiktas had seemed in command while taking a 43-27 lead right after halftime to culminate a 23-4 advantage over the previous 7 minutes. However, the pendulum swung fully in Benetton's direction the rest of the way. Domen Lorbek and Radoslav Rancik followed for the winners with 14 points each, while Gary Neal was right behind them with 13. Besiktas relied on big men Cevher Ozer and Adem Oren, who had 23 and 16 points, respectively, but most of those came in the firrst half. In the second, when Benetton turned the tables, Besiktas could not find a go-to guy and saw the result slip away at home.
Bobby Dixon's three-pointer for Benetton opened the scoring but the lead changed to Besiktas after an Ozer layup followed by Mire Chatman free throws. Benetton stayed strong inside and with the help of offensive rebounds, Nicevic and Dixon paired up to give Benetton a 6-11 lead after 5 minutes. Ozer and Chatman kept Besiktas on the heels of the visitors, who nonetheless finished the first quarter ahead 12-15. Benetton pushed ahead again in the second quarter as Lorbek 's layup made it 17-23, the highest lead so far. Besiktas shooks itself away then, using defensive pressure and especially inside strength from Ozer and Oren to start turning the tide. First, the home team made an 8-0 run to gain the lead again, 25-23, on Muratcan Guler's jumper. After Rancik scored a layup for Benetton, the hosts were at it again, tacking on another huge run of 15-0 thanks to 3 triples from Oren. His third blast from the arc extend Besiktas's lead to 40-25, and only a layup by Neal broke Benetton's silence before halftime. By that point, Besiktas has outscored the visitors 23-4 in 7 minutes to take a 40-27 advantage to the locker room.
Veteran forward Haluk Yildirim's three-pointer to open the second half gave Besiktas a seemingly insurmountable lead at 43-27. But it also seemed to wake Benetton from its sleep. Soon, Matteo Soragna opened fire for the visitors with a triple while Roberto Rulo damaged the Besiktas defense inside with consecutive baskets that lowered the difference all the way to 47-40 to cap a 4-13 run. Benetton was not done, either. Lorbek landed a triple to get the visitors within 4 points, a gap that held at 52-48 at the end of the third period. Things continued to go bad for Besiktas as Benetton gained defensive confidence with every minute. After Chatman's dunk for Besiktas made it 59-52 early in the final quarter, Benetton was blasting off again, this time with a 0-8 run in which Lorbek, Rancik and Nicevic didn't stop until the visitors had claimed the lead again, 59-60 with 7 minutes left. A short while later, Rancik buried a big triple at 63-67 and heading into the last 2 minutes, Neal's jump shot boosted Benetton's advantage to 7 points, 64-71. Jimmy Baxter and Ozer tried hard in the remaining seconds to revive Besiktas, but Benetton was safe from the foul line and preserved a very valuable 72-77 road win.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008