Montepaschi Siena stayed in the fight to reach high in Group A by downing host Virtus VidiVici Bologna 64-77 in an all-Italian showdown on Thursday. Montepaschi, already qualified for the Top 16, improved to 8-4 and ties with Tau Ceramica for second place in the group. Bologna, which had already run out of chances to reach the next round, dropped to 2-10. Romain Sato paced the winners with 18 points on 8-for-10 two-pointers, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Terrell McIntyre added 13 points, former Bologna guard Vlado Ilievski had 11 while Ben Eze got 10 for Montepaschi. Guilherme Giovannoni led Bologna with 19 points on 7-for-9 two-pointers. Roberto Chiacig added 12 against his former team while Fabio Di Bella had 10 for the hosts. McIntyre and Ilievski fueled a 4-16 run that broke the game open, 10-30, late in the first quarter. Giovannoni and Di Bella brought Bologna back to life, 34-42, at halftime, while a three-pointer by Federico Lestini made it a three-point game, 53-56, late in the third quarter. Montepaschi limited Bologna to just 8 points in the fourth quarter while an outstanding Sato took over in this period to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Shaun Stonerook and Ilievski got Montepaschi going while Bologna went to big men Giovannoni and Luca Garri inside to make it 4-6. Another three-pointer - this time by McIntyre - and a powerful dunk by Eze built a 4-11 edge for the guests. McIntyre stayed red-hot with 2 more triples, lifting Montepaschi in front by 6-17. Chiacig's low-post move broke the crowd’s silence but Ilievski’s free throws and a basket-with-free throw by Ksystof Lavrinovic enlarged the gap to 8-22. The hosts tried to climb on Chiacig’s shoulders, but Montepaschi run couldn’t be stopped as Sato hit 4 points in a row and Ilievski’s reverse layup made it a 20- point game before the first quarter ended 12-30.
Bologna's frontcourt kept being the only problem for Montepaschi as Chiacig and Giovannoni combined for 8 points to open the second quarter and narrow the lead to 22-35. Montepaschi started feeding Eze and he answered with a spin and a turnaround jumper good for a 22-39 lead. Consecutive three-pointers by Federico Lestini and Donnie McGrath inspired a 11-2 run that Andrea Michelori’s rebounds capped by letting Di Bella score on a fastbreak. Bologna’s fighting soul reduced the gap down to 7 points, 34-41, but Sato’s put-back after his own missed drive gave Montepaschi oxygen and preserved a 34-43 score at intermission.
Eze’s athletism darkened Bologna’s view to begin the third quarter and Montepaschi exploited it with a 7-1 opening run to make it 35-50. When Bologna's centers finally found the hole, the hosts come back within 42-50 on consecutive layups by Garri, Giovannoni and Chiacig. Marco Carraretto, who had landed the opening three-pointer of the quarter, scored on a difficult pull-up shot and added free throws to help Montepaschi take a double-digit lead again, 44-54. A fade- away by Giovannoni and a pair of free throws by Chiacig brought Bologna within 6 again, just before Federico Lestini bagged an amazing 24-second beater three-pointer that suddenly made it a three-point game at 53-56. In the last minute of the quarter, Sato went only 1-for-2 from the line but Chiacig missing both of his attempts and Montepaschi maintained a 53-57 edge after 30 minutes.
Montepaschi assaulted the last quarter with a different intensity as offensive precision gave its defense a further spur. Sato, Lavrinovic and McIntyre hit jumpers good for a 2-7 run and a 55-64 scoreboard. Sato’s corner jumper over the defender pushed the lead to 10 points, 56-66, but Lestini landed another big shot from beyond the arc and Bologna managed to stay within 59-66 with 5 minutes to play. Locking its defense, Bologna had a chance to try a couple of open three-pointers to come come closer, but missed them. Garri’s put-back, however, made it a five-point game on 61-66, but Sato decided to stop the hosts run as he scored a pull-up jumper, fed Eze for a tremendous dunk, got a fastbreak-with-free throw and added a two-handed jam to lock in a 61-75 advantage with one minute to play. It was over for VidiVici, while Montepaschi could enjoy its road win and its two-way tie at second place in Group A.
Thursday, January 17, 2008