From No-Hopers To Play-Off Hopefuls


Everything seems to be coming good for Scavolini Pesaro at the right time.

Losers of eight straight games to start the Lega A season, Luca Dalmonte's team is now one of the hottest outfits in Italy with Wednesday night's 90-73 home triumph over Virtus Bologna their fourth win in the last five games.

"We have managed in the best possible way to determine our future with our own hands without depending on others to avoid relegation," Dalmonte said.

"This is the fifth game in a row, including that of Cremona, that the team has played with this approach.

"At the end, we will analyze our situation but today is the time to enjoy our position in the standings. I would say that we are safe now, and now we go to Teramo (April 25) with less weight on our shoulders.

"Then we have the (EuroChallenge) Final Four to prepare for."

Scavolini have a date on April 30 with Krasnye Krylia at the EuroChallenge Final Four.

One of the big reasons for the Scavolini turnaround has been the steady play of Branko Cvektovic.

The Serbia international joined the team on November 27, after their opening seven defeats, and has given them such much needed scoring punch.

Averaging better than 11 points per game, Serbia international Cvektovic buried four of five shots from long range against Virtus and finished with a game-high 23 points.

 Michael Hicks and Marques Green also contributed 17 points apiece in the victory over Virtus, who struggled in their first game without Finland international Petteri Koponen.

Koponen has been lost for the season with a stress fracture in his left foot.

Scavolini have games remaining against Banca Tercas Teramo and Cimberio Varese.

They are just one win adrift of eighth-place Air Avellino and could, if results go their way, even go to the Italian post-season.

The top eight sides advance to the play-offs.

Working against Scavolini, however, is that Avellino have three games in hand while ninth-place Benetton (10-14) have played two games less.

Scavolini has swept their two games against Avellino but lost both against Benetton.

At least the team is no longer fearing the drop.

"I have to compliment my team and each player that has given his contribution," Dalmonte said after the win over Virtus.

"We have never given up on defense, other than the last five minutes.

"I am really satisfied as we have not always played like this.

"The important thing is to play like this in the crucial stage of the season and thanks to our fans, we are close to it."


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