Montepaschi Siena got just one step away from returning to the Final Four after a three-year absence by downing Fenerbahce Ulker 73-66 at home in Game 1 of the best-of-three Quarterfinal Playoffs series on Tuesday night. Montepaschi has a 1-0 lead in the series, that move now to Istanbul, Turkey for Game 2 on Thursday. Montepaschi will advance to the Final Four with one more win in the series and would host do-or-die Game 3 if Fenerbahce stays alive in Abdi Ipecki this week. Ksistof Lavrinovic led the winners with 16 points. Bootsy Thronton added 14, Terrell McIntyre had 12 while Shaun Stonerook grabbed 7 rebounds and collected 8 steals for Montepaschi. Tarence Kinsey and Semih Erden each had 12 points for Fenerbahce while Emir Preldzic and Willie Solomon added 11 apiece for the guests, that led 46-49 late in the third quarter. Marco Carrareto, McIntyre and Thornton struck from downtown in a game-breaking 15-2 run that gave Montepaschi a 61-51 lead. Stonerook, McIntyre and Lavrinovic allowed Montepaschi to keep a slim yet safe lead until the final buzzer.
Both teams started slows, missing shots until Sato's free throw got Montepaschi going. Solomon answered from downtown for a 1-3 Fenerbahce lead. Benjamin Eze fed McIntyre for an easy layup but Montepaschi kept missing open shots early. Even with that, strong defense and a three-pointer by Lavrinovic gave the hosts a 6-3 edge. Lavrinovic kept pacing his team with a driving layup that capped a 7-0 Montepaschi run. Oguz Savas made a free throw but Thronton provided a highlight with a layup coming off the baseline. Preldzic hit foul shots off a Fener timeout but McIntyre fed Romain Sato for a fastbreak layup. Gasper Vidmar shined with a put-back dunk that Thornton topped with a bomb from downtown for a 15-8 Montepaschi lead. Preldzic and Thornton traded dunks before Stonerook slammed, too, in transition for a nine-point Siena lead, 19-10. Preldzic and Solomon sank respective triples but a basket by Thornton and free throws by McIntyre kept Montepaschi ahead, 23-16, after 10 minutes.
Erden dunked for Fenerbahce to start the second quarter but Eze matched him with a turnaround jumper. Kinsey sank a running jumper in transition to get Fenerbahce within 25-20. Montepaschi struggled to score now, missing open shots with Sato and Thornton resting on the bench. Vlado Ilievski stepped up with a driving layup but Damir Mrsic answered from downtown and Kinsey added a triple from the same spot to make the hosts call timeout at 27-26. Another three-pointer by Kinsey gave Fener the lead again, 27-29, to cap a 0-9 run. Sato responded with a driving layup but Mrsic struck again from downtown for a 29-32 Fenerbahce edge. Eze took over with a put-back dunk, igniting a 6-0 Montepaschi run that Stonerook capped with a three-pointer. Vidmar kept the guests close with a tip-in at 35-34. Hector Romero provided a highlight with an acrobatic layup and then matched Solomon's free throws with a power basket for a 39-36 Montepaschi edge at the break.
Asik a huge block on McIntyre early in the third quarter but he got revenge with a layup. Vidmar took over with a two-handed dunk to keep Fenerbahce as close as 41-38. Lavrinovic copied him with a wild slam in the other end. Omer Onan scored in penetration but Lavrinovic answered from downtown for a 46-40 Montepaschi lead. Asik sank free throws that Solomon followed with his third three-pointer to keep Fenerbahce in the game, 46-45, midway through the third quarter. Asik shined with a jump hook to make Fener call timeout at 46-47. Montepaschi opted to power the offensive board with Lavrinovic and Stonerook but its shooters were off-target now. Meanwhile, Erden dunked it for a three-point Fener lead at 46-49, after a 0-9 run. Thornton stepped up with free throws while Lavrinovic beat the guests' 2-3 zone defense with a three-pointer for a 52-49 Montepaschi edge. Erden made free throws but Carrareto answered from downtown to give the hosts a four-point lead, 55-51, after 30 minutes.
McIntyre fired in a seven-meter bomb right at the start of the fourth quarter, as Solomon and Fenerbahce did not find in answers now. Thornton sank a three-pointer off the dribble that capped a 9-0 run and gave Montepaschi a double-digit lead, 61-51. Erden dunked it again and Fenerbahce improved its defense right when it needed it most. Even with that, Carrareto shined with a reverse layup to keep the hosts way ahead, 63-53. It was do-or-die for Fenerbahce and Kinsey tried to ignit the guests' comeback with free throws. He didn't find much help around, however, while Stonerook stepped up with a critical basket for a 65-55 Montepaschi lead with less than 4 minutes to go. Erden scored in the low post but McIntyre answered from downtown to make it an 11-point game, 68-57. Kinsey sank a jumper and Mrsic added a triple but Fenerbahce ran out of time, as Montepaschi managed to seal the outcome minutes before the final buzzer.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008