|Montepaschi Siena finished Top 16 Group H with a smile by edging Fenerbahce Ulker 68-73 in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday night. Montepaschi finished second in Group H with a 4-2 record and will play Panathinaikos in the upcoming best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs. Meanwhile, FB Ulker was fourth in this Last 16 group at 1-5, registering its third consecutive home loss. Rimantas Kaukenas paced the winners with 27 points on 3-for-4 three-pointers and 8-for-9 free throws. Romain Sato added 12 while Shaun Stonerook pulled down 8 rebounds and collected 5 steals for Montepaschi. Mirsad Turkcan led Fener with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Ogus Savas and Semih Erden each added 12 points, Devin Smith had 11 while Damir Mrsic got 10 for the hosts. Montepaschi opened the game with a 0-9 run and managed to keep a 14-23 lead after 10 minutes. Turkcan helped Fenerbahce to get within 30-40 while a three-pointer by Mrsic gave the hosts their first lead, 52-51, late in the third quarter. Montepaschi allowed just 5 points in the fourth period while an unstoppable Kaukenas and a critical jumper by Morris Finley sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Both teams tried to play up-tempo since the opening tip. Kaukenas got Montepaschi going with consecutive fast break layups for a 0-4 lead. FB Ulker called timeout but kept committing turnovers. Meanwhile, Benjamin Eze shined with a three-point play while Kaukenas added free throws to cap a 0-9 Montepaschi run. Savas stepped up with foul shots, as FB Ulker slowly improved its man-to-man defense. Both teams had entered the foul bonus but Montepaschi made the most out it, as Finley sank 4-for-4 free throws for boost the guests' lead to 2-13. Mrsic and Sato traded triples while a two-handed dunk by Gasper Vidmar got Fener within 7-16. Luca Lechthaler and Omer Onan traded foul shots, as Fenerbahce tried a 1-3-1 zone defense. Savas did not miss from the foul line but Kaukenas kept Montepaschi way ahead, 11-21. Turkcan scored down low while a free throw by Semih Erden and a jump hook by Tomas Ress fixed the score at 14-23 after 10 minutes.
Turkcan kept pacing FB Ulker with free throws early in the second quarter. Ress finished an outstanding Montepaschi offense with a wild dunk but Erden followed a layup with a four-meter jumper to bring the hosts back to life, 20-25. Montepaschi tried a small lineup with Sato at power forward but Erden stayed unstoppable with a big dunk. Sato answered from downtown while Stonerook fed Marco Carrareto for a floating layup, good for a 22-30 Montepaschi lead. Mrsic buried his trademark three-pointer but Sato took over with a power move in the low post and soon added free throws. Turkcan nailed a triple from the top of the key while free throws by Savas off a TV timeout got Fener as close as 30-34. Savas scored again to cap a 0-7 FB Ulker run, as Kaukenas sank a triple for a 32-27 score. Back-to-back layups by Turkcan brought the hosts even closer, 36-37. Finley nailed a triple that Turkcan matched with a layup-plus-foul to keep Fener within 39-40 at halftime.
Eze scored in the paint immediately after the break but a three-pointer by Smith tied the game at 42-42. Sato collected a steal and hit free throws while a put-back layup by Stonerook gave the guests some fresh air, 42-46. Erden shined with a jump hook but Kaukenas bettered that with a three-pointer and soon added a fast break layup for a 44-51 score. Turkcan took over with a tip-in while Smith scored in transition to get Fener as close as 49-51. Montepaschi could not find the way to the basket while a triple by Mrsic gave the hosts its first lead, 52-51, after an 8-0 run. Montepaschi called a much-needed timeout and Eze scored in the low post right before fouling out. Savas made free throws while Smith downed a three-pointer in transition for a 57-53 score. Kaukenas hit free throws that Turkcan improved with a layup-plus-foul. Lechthaler shined with a power layup but Savas beat the buzzer with a fallaway jumper, good for a 63-57 FB Ulker lead after three quarters.
Stonerook sank a seven-meter bomb early in the fourth period, as Fenerbahce went scoreless for more than 5 minutes. Montepaschi missed several open shots, however, as the hosts tried to readjust their offense by using longer possessions. Stonerook collected a steal that allowed Kaukenas to tie the game with a triple, 63-63. Fenerbahce kept struggling to score without Turkcan on court. Meanwhile, Kaukenas provided a highlight with an acrobatic three-point play that put the guests back ahead, 63-66. Erden hit free throws, as Fenerbahce managed to stop Kaukenas in the other end. The guests found a new go-to guy in Arriel McDonald, who took over with a layup-plus-foul for a 65-69 score with 2:25 to go. Kaukenas hit free throws to seal the outcome, 65-71, with less than 2 minutes remaining. Smith fired in a rainbow triple but Finley sank a close jumper for a 68-73 score, enough for Montepaschi to return home with a valuable road win.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009