Montepaschi Siena had a trick or two up its sleeve when visiting Zalgiris Kaunas in Group B on Thursday - its own Lithuanians. Two of those Montepaschi imports - Rimantas Kaukenas and Ksistof Lavrinovic - led a second-half surge that let the Italian champions win going away, 67-93, to stay undefeated. Zalgiris, meanwhile, dropped to 0-2 despite leading for much of the first half. Kaukenas exploded in the second and finished with 27 points. Lavrinovic finished as his team's top performer with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Romain Sato added 18 points to the cause and Henry Domercant 11. For Zalgiris, Paulius Jankunas dropped 16 points and Loren Woods 15, but most of that came in the first half. Montepaschi's defense held the hosts to just 24 points after halftime, at which time Zalgiris had led 43-40. In the end, however, Zalgiris cold not stop Montepaschi near the basket, as the visitors hit an amazing 30 of 40 two-point shots (75%) to win despite shooting only 4 free throws all game.
Both teams struggled to score at the outset, but after Montepaschi awoke with Sato's mid-range jumper, Zygimantas Janavicius answered with three-pointer and layup, putting Zalgiris ahead 5-3. Sato and Domercant combined for 4 points then, but Montepaschi couldn't stop Jankunas from matching them. Montepaschi intensified its defense, forcing a turnover and a Zalgiris timeout before Domercant struck from the downtown. Jankunas shot an airball from the arc, but Dainius Salenga grabbed it and made an acrobatic layup for the hosts. The Lithuanian connection of Montepaschi worked as Lavrinovic fed Kaukenas for an open three-pointer that cut Zalgiris lead to 16-14. Jankunas stepped up with an easy layup, Rolandas Alijevas copied him mid-range and Mantas Kalnietis added free throws as Zalgiris soared again, but after two offensive rebounds, Marco Carraretto closed the first quarter with three-pointer for Montepaschi that trimmed the difference to 22-19.
Three-pointers by Jonas Maciulis and Salenga boosted Zalgiris at the start of the second quarter. Lavrinovic did all the dirty work on offense for Montepaschi with nice penetration. Deane kept Zalgiris from slipping only as long as Lavrinovic made a put-back and fired a triple to get his team as close as 31-28. Montepaschi seemed to find its scoring rhythm as Kaukenas made a trademark baseline layup and Lavrinovic 2 free throws that pushed visitors ahead at 35-36. Montepashi continued to run its offense through Kaukenas, who hit another shot before Loren Woods made free throws. Zalgiris couldn’t score until Kalnietis penetrated for a flashy layup and added another one on the fastbreak which reestablished a Zalgiris advantage of 43-40 at halftime.
Janavicius got his team going with three-pointer but Sato matched him with basket-plus-free throw before Jankunas tapped in a Maciulis miss from downtown. Zalgiris didn't slow down the pace as Dean dished a nice assist to Woods for a layup. Montepaschi turned to Kaukenas, however, and his jumper initiated a 0-6 run 6-0 in which Mcintyre and Lavrinovic participated. Zalgiris couldn't get through Montepaschi's sticky and aggressive defense while Sato had a powerful two-handed dunk and Kaunkenas a three-pointer bomb to put the guests ahead at 51-55. Zalgiris still struggled until Jankunas drove inside but a Montepaschi flourish to which Lavrinovic, McIntyre, Sato and Kaukenas all contributed meant a double-digit advantage, 57-67, for the visitors after 30 minutes.
Sato opened the fourth quarter with 5 consecutive points and Mcintyre added a layup on the fastbreak to silence the Zalgiris crowd quickly, even after Jankunas hit a triple off the glass. Zalgiris couldn't get inside and continued to miss from long distance while Montepaschi executed plays and hit open shots. Morris Finley's penetratation put the lead over 20 points, at 67-89, forcing the hosts to call another timeout, but the handwriting was on the wall already and the rest of the game was just waiting for the buzzer that sent Montepaschi back to Italy undefeated and Zalgiris still looking for a first win.
Thursday, October 30, 2008