Montepaschi Siena sent a message that echoed all around the Euroleague by downing defending champion CSKA Moscow 74-56 at home in Group H on Wednesday. Both teams are now tied for first place in Group H with 2-1 records after Montepaschi registered its 13th consecutive Euroleague home win – and its 31st straight triumph in Siena also counting Italian League games – since it last loss came against CSKA on December 19, 2007. Montepaschi handed CSKA its worst loss in the Euroleague this decade. CSKA had not registered an 18-point loss since going down 83-63 on the road at PAOK on October 6, 1999. Terrell McIntyre led the winners with 21 points. Rimantas Kaukenas added 18 and Benjamin Eze had 15 for Montepaschi. Terence Morris had 10 points for CSKA, but nobody else scored in double digits for the guests. Montepaschi overcame a slow start as McIntyre, Eze and Shaun Stonerook gave the hosts a 24-16 margin. CSKA got within 27-22 at halftime. McIntyre stayed an unstoppable and got some help from Eze and Morris Finley to break the game open, 53-37, after 30 minutes. CSKA did not recover as the Montepaschi fans celebrated a well-deserved and pivotal home win.
Khryapa got CSKA going with an easy layup as the visitors powered the offensive boards early in the game. Montepaschi was off-target in the opening two minutes, missing three times from downtown. Meanwhile, a put-back layup by Morris gave CSKA a 0-4 margin. The hosts remained scoreless for almost four minutes until McIntyre sank a stop-and-pop jumper. Trajan Langdon nailed a smooth step-back shot, as CSKA kept excelling in defense, forcing Montepaschi to take tough shots in each and every possession. A wild reverse dunk by an outstanding Khryapa caused Montepaschi to call timeout at 2-8. McIntyre struck from downtown, as Montepaschi managed to lock the defensive boards with Stonerook on court. Matjaz Smodis dunked it, as Montepaschi did not find answers on offense. Rimas Kaukenas stepped up with free throws and McIntyre added a driving layup to bring the hosts back to life, 9-10. Kaukenas shined with a driving basket to give Montepaschi its first lead, 11-10, after 10 minutes.
Kaukenas kept pacing Montepaschi with a big basket right at the start of the second quarter that capped an 8-0 run. Zoran Planinic stepped up with a driving layup, but Romain Sato answered from downtown for a 16-12 Montepaschi lead. Montepaschi dominated the game in defense, while McIntyre sank free throws and fed Ben Eze for an outstanding alley-oop dunk to cause the guests to call timeout at 20-12. J.R. Holden scored in transition, but Kaukenas answered with a long jumper. Erazem Lorbek took over with a power layup, but foul shots by Stonerook kept Montepaschi way ahead, 24-16. Lorbek shined with a big basket in the low post that Eze erased with a four-meter jumper. Planinic tried to bring CSKA back to life with a three-point play, but he did not find much help around. Both teams struggled to score in the final two minutes of the period, as Eze and Morris traded free throws to fix the halftime score at 27-22.
Romain Sato buried an off-balance jumper immediately after the break before Kaukenas added a driving layup to make it a 9-point game. Khryapa tried to change things with a driving basket, but Montepaschi improved its defense through McIntyre. Darjus Lavrinovic took over with a put-back turnaround jumper and McIntyre sank a three-pointer off the dribble to break the game open, 36-24. Smodis shined with a left-handed layup that Morris followed with a reverse basket to bring CSKA within single digits. Siskauskas capped a 0-6 CSKA run with free throws, but Eze scored down low to keep his team ahead 38-30. McIntyre fired in a six-meter jumper off the dribble and added free throws to restore a 42-30 margin. Holden nailed a triple and soon added free throws, but a big triple by Finley kept the hosts way ahead, 47-35. Domercant scored in penetration but Morris found space for an uncontested dunk. Free throws by Eze and a fast break layup by Finley boosted the hosts' lead to 53-37 after 30 minutes.
CSKA needed a quick comeback to return to the game, but Montepaschi stayed simply unstoppable in defense. Meanwhile, Eze sank a jumper for a 55-37 margin. Morris tried to change things with a layup-plus-foul, but Eze shined again with a tip-in to seal the outcome, 57-40, with eight minutes to go. Both teams were already starting to fight for points differential, a critical issue to qualify to the playoffs and even to win this Top 16 group. Lorbek scored inside, as Montepaschi tried to slow down the game tempo without finding good shots now. Kaukenas got the crowd involved with a power layup that Eze followed with a put-back basket. Kaukenas scored again in penetration to make it 63-42. Langdon nailed a three-pointer and even though CSKA kept trying, everything was said and done already. Montepaschi rejoined the race to win Group H while CSKA must improve right away, as both teams meet again in Moscow on February 25.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009