Bennet Cantu stunned Gescrap BB 64-67
Bennet Cantu took a huge step towards a Top 16 spot as Ginaluca Basile’s buzzer-beating three-pointer gave his team a 64-67 win over Gescrap BB in a packed Bilbao Arena. It was the fifth victory for Cantu in balanced Group A. Cantu hit 10 three pointers and led for the great majority of the game, often holding a double-digit lead, but it looked as the high-drama would extend into overtime when Kostas Vasiliadis tied the game with 2.9 seconds to go. But Basile, who finished the game with 7 points on 2-for-8 shooting, made a long and awkward three that gave his team an important victory. Vladimir Micov scored all of his 13 points in the first half to lead Cantu, Giorgi Shermadini added 11 points and 5 rebounds and Maarten Leunen scored 10 and grabbed 5 rebounds. Gescrap Bilbao dropped to 3-5 in its Euroleague debut. Marko Banic led the home side with 16 points, Roger Grimau scored all of his 11 points in the second half, and Janis Blums and Vasiliadis finished with 10 apiece.
Blums and Nicolas Mazzarino exchanged three-pointers to open the game, and then Micov hit back-to-back threes for a 5-9 Cantu lead. Mazzarino hit an improbable shot of the glass, and Micov drove to the basket to make it 5-out-of-5 baskets for the visitors at the start of the game and a 2-13 run for an 8-point advantage. Other than couple of layups by Banic, the home side had a hard time finding open shooters and scoring, until Vasiliadis made a three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining in the quarter to cut the deficit to 14-17.
Manu Markoishvilli scored his first points to start the second quarter, and Josh Fisher drove to the basket to keep Gescrap close. The hosts had trouble controlling defensive rebounds, though, so with a Denis Marconato tip-in and Micov hitting his third three, Cantu once again went up by 8 and forced Bilbao head coach Fotios Katsikaris to call a timeout. Vasiliadis and Micov each drove to the basket and Marconato followed it up with a hook shot in the low post to make it a 10-point game with little over five minutes to go in the first half. Cantu kept playing great defense, both on the perimeter and in the paint, which forced the home team into taking low-percentage shots and then controlling the boards. On the other end of the floor, Markoishvili assisted Shermadini for an uncontested slam dunk, and then Markoishvili himself on back-to-back possessions hit a tough jumper and a tough three. After another Katsikaris timeout, Leunen hit Cantu’s sixth shot behind the 6.75-meter line to make it 24-38 with less than a minute to go in the half. Blums answered with a three with Marconato’s hand in his face, but Marconato had a last laugh in the quarter by grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring with 3 seconds to go to give Cantu a 27-40 halftime lead.
Banic scored 2 free throws and a long jumper at the beginning of the second half, and Alex Mumbru hit from downtown to make it 34-40. Banic extended Gescrap’s run with 2 more free throws after a Mumbru steal as Cantu went scoreless for more than three minutes to start the third quarter. Leunen ended the visitors’ drought with a three, but Banic hit a mid-range jumper and Aaron Jackson drove to the basket to keep Bilbao within 4 points. Shermadini then silenced the crowd with one-handed slam-dunk after a pick and roll with Basile. After that, Carlos Gianella split free throws for his first ever Euroleague point, and Basile hit a three-pointer to make it 40-50 with over two minutes to go in the quarter. Blums answered with a three-pointer and Gianella drove to the basket to keep a double-digit lead for Cantu, before Grimau made both free throws and a layup in the final minute to make it 47-54 at the and of three quarters.
Markoishvilli made a shot from the right side, but Grimau hit 2 more free throws to start the fourth quarter and added two more good defensive plays against Gianella and Micov. Bilbao failed to score on the next three possessions and thus missed opportunities to melt the deficit. In addition, Leunen hit a jump-shot to make it 49-58, but Grimau answered with a rare basket-plus-foul for the home team and Vasiliadis followed it up with hit a fast-break three-pointer for a 6-0 run that forced Cantu head coach Andrea Trinchieri to call a timeout. That did not stop Grimau, who scored from the low-post to make it 57-58, but Mazzarino hit a three from the left corner to give Cantu another 4-point lead with less than five minutes to go. D’Or Fischer made a tip-in and Bilbao’s defense stepped up to keep the visitors from scoring for more than three minutes, but all that the home team managed to muster was Blums’s single free throws that made it 60-61. It was Banic who scored lay-up with 1:12 remaining to put Bilbao in front for the first time since the opening minutes, but Shermadini answered right back with a slam dunk. On the other end of the floor, Shermadini forced Blums into making a turnover, and then he made 1 of 2 free throws with 14.4 seconds remaining to give Cantu a 62-64 advantage. That was enough time for Jackson to drive the length of the court and find Vasiliadis, who nailed his shot with a foot on the three-point line. Vasiliadis and the home crowd thought he made a three-pointer, but after a video review, the referees determined he stepped on the line, so it was tied 64-64 with 2.9 seconds to go. That turned out to be enough time for Basile to hit a three-pointer from 9 meters as time expired and send the visiting team into jubilation.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011