|Montepaschi Siena will look to extend its season by at least one more game when it hosts Panathinaikos in a do-or-die Game 4 in their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series on Thursday in Siena. The Greens dominated the glass and took advantage of Montepaschi’s poor shooting en route to a 53-72 win on Tuesday to take a 2-1 series lead. Panathinaikos’s defense forced Montepaschi’s worst offensive output of the season, which not coincidentally led to its first home loss since 2007. Head coach Simone Pianigiani will have to go back to the drawing board and find a way to recapture the form that the Italian champs displayed when they beat Panathinaikos in Game 2 in Athens. The good news for Montepaschi is that due to the rout, no player was forced into extended minutes and all should be fresh for Thursday’s decisive encounter. A negative though is that All-Euroleague big man Ksistof Lavrinovic, who rushed back from a broken hand to help his team, was a non-factor. Lavrinovic was held scoreless for the first time in his Euroleague career, missing all 6 shot attempts and taking only 2 rebounds in 21 minutes. Without Lavrinovic’s help, Ben Eze and Shaun Stoenrook will have a tough time against Panathinaikos frontcourt of Mike Batiste, Nikola Pekovic, Kostas Tsartsaris and Antonis Fotsis. Meanwhile Dimitris Diamantidis was back to his old self for head coach Zeljko Obradovic. A healthy Diamantidis only bolsters the Greens’ backcourt, which also features Vassilsi Spanoulis, Drew Nicholas and Sarunas Jasikevicius. They will look to contain Montepaschi star Terrell McIntyre and his backcourt mates, Rimas Kaukenas, Henry Domercant and Morris Finley. The teams’ respective starting small forwards, Romain Sato of Montepaschi and Stratos Perperoglou, neither of who was a factor in Game 3, could prove to be difference makers in Game 4. Tuesday’s game was the fifth time these teams met this season and the first time the game was decided by more than 5 points. That points to another close game in Game 4. The pressure will be on Montepaschi, which must win to stay alive, while Panathinaikos can fall back on Game 5 at home, though Obradovic will surely have his team motivated to close the series sooner. It’s not likely that Montepaschi will duplicate the poor shooting from Game 3, but it must still solve the rebounding issue, while being careful to avoid foul trouble. Montepaschi’s success or failure in the paint could determine the outcome of its entire season.
- Montepaschi Siena had a 14-game home-court winning streak snapped when it lost Game 3 against Panathinaikos.
- All-Euroleague playmaker Terrell McIntyre has made at least 1 three-pointer in 15 straight appearances.
- McIntyre has scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games. He leads the Quarterfinal Playoffs in scoring with 21.3 points per game.
- Guard Henry Domercant has made his last 28 free throws over a span of 12 games. He is shooting 94.3% from the line for the season.
- Forward Romain Sato set Euroleague career highs with 29 points and a 40 index in the Game 1 loss at Panathinaikos.
- Domercant matched his Euroleague career high with 29 points against Panathinaikos in an April 2005 Quarterfinal Playoff game. Domercant, then with Efes Pilsen, scored 29 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in a 102-96 overtime loss at OAKA. Current Panathinaikos swingman Dusan Kecman was a teammate of Domercant on that team.
- Ariel McDonald spent two seasons playing for Panathinaikos, winning two Greek championships and one Greek Cup. Aside from head coach Zeljko Obradovic, McDonald will be reunited with former teammates Fragiskos Alvertis, Mike Batiste, Nikos Hatzivrettas, Dusan Sakota and Kostas Tsartsaris.
- Reserve shooting guard Marco Carraretto set Euroleague career bests in points and three-point shooting when he went 5 for 5 from downtown and finished with 15 points in Montepaschi’s win over Panathinaikos in January.
- Guard Drew Nicholas has made at least 3 three-pointers in four straight and seven of his last eight Euroleague games. He shot 52.2% from downtown over the course of February and March.
- Center Nikola Pekovic has scored in double figures in each of his last six games.
- Guard Dimitris Diamantidis entered the top 20 on the Euroleague Basketball career blocked shots chart with 2 blocks in Game 3. At 1.96 meters, he is the shortest player among the top 20.
- Power forward Antonis Fotsis and Montepaschi guard Henry Domercant were teammates at Dynamo Moscow last season, helping the club reach the ULEB Cup semifinals.
- Guard Sarunas Jasikevicius was a teammate of Montepaschi big man Ksistof Lavrinovic and guard Rimas Kaukenas on the Lithuanian Olympic team last summer. Jasikevicius and Lavrinovic were also teammates on the Lithuanian side that won the 2003 European championships in Sweden.
- Big man Mike Batiste scored a season-high 28 points against Montepaschi when they met in January.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009