Montepaschi Siena claimed third place at the 2008 Euroleague Basketball Final Four with a 97-93 overtime win over Tau Ceramica on Sunday at the Community of Madrid Sports Palace. Ksistof Lavrinovic hit a free throw with 4.7 seconds left to force overtime and then the Italian champs used a 9-0 charge in the extra period to secure the win. Lavrinovic paced Montepaschi with 19 points and Terrell McIntyre shined with 16 points and a new Euroleague Final Four record 12 assists. The win means that Montepaschi will be a top seed in the draw for the 2008-2009 regular season. The game was a close encounter throughout, with neither team ever taking a meaningful lead. Romain Sato added 15 points, 9 rebounds and 5 steals for the winners, Bootsy Thornton scored 14, and Shaun Stonerook posted 12 points and 9 boards for the winners. Pete Mickeal led Tau with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Tiago Splitter scored 15, Mirza Teletovic 14 – of which 11 came in the first eight minutes – James Singleton 13, Igor Rakocevic 10, while Pablo Prigioni dished 11 assists.
Montepaschi powered the offensive boards in the opening two minutes, but missed its first 6 shots, while at the other end, a three-pointer by Zoran Planinic got Tau going. Sato stepped up with a fast break basket for Montepaschi’s first points. Thornton copied him soon after that for a 4-3 Siena lead. Teletovic answered from downtown and then Tau brought Montepaschi into the foul bonus in less than four minutes. Planinic made free throws, but a put-back layup by Benjamin Eze got Montepaschi within 6-8. Thornton provided a highlight with an off-balanced jumper, as Eze went to the bench with 3 fouls. Will McDonald hit a free throw only to see Thornton score again to get Montepaschi back ahead, 9-8. Teletovic sandwiched a pair of bombs from downtown around McIntyre's triple and soon added an uncontested layup, causing Montepaschi to call timeout at 13-17. Lavrinovic sank foul shots, which Pablo Prigioni erased at the other end. Lavrinovic followed another free throw with a power layup, Vlado Ilievski added a driving basket and Stonerook hit a free throw to restore a 21-19 Montepaschi edge after 10 minutes.
Tau had just made one two-pointer in the entire first quarter, but Simas Jasaitis, who did not play against CSKA, scored around the basket in his first seconds on court. Montepaschi struggled to score early in this period while Singleton stepped up with a three-point play to put Tau back ahead, 21-24. Tau was very intense on defense now, not allowing any easy shots, but Ilievski sank a five-meter jumper. Montepaschi tried to play more aggressive, controlling the passing lanes, while former Tau guard Marco Carraretto shined with a driving layup. Jasaitis answered from downtown and Splitter added a layup to make it 25-29. After a Montepaschi timeout, Drake Diener made free throws and soon added a long two-pointer to tie it at 29-29. Prigioni fired in one from downtown, but a fast break layup by McIntyre kept Montepaschi as close as 31-33. Mickeal found his first points on free throws and followed those with a fast break layup, good for a 6-point Tau lead. Stonerook tried to change things for Montepaschi, but more foul shots by Mickeal kept Tau ahead. Thornton and McDonald exchanged free throws before a triple by Diener fixed the halftime score at 38-41.
Sato sank a close jumper right after the break and Lavrinovic added a layup to put Montepaschi back ahead, 42-41. Tau could not find its way to the basket early in the third quarter. McIntyre added free throws to cap a 6-0 Montepaschi spurt. Will McDonald stepped up with a put-back layup that Sato matched with a baseline jumper. Rakocevic struck from downtown before Thornton and Mickeal traded baskets to make it 49-48. Montepaschi switched to a 2-3 zone defense, which Mickeal broke with a layup in transition. Sato sank a jumper to tie the game again, 51-51, as Tau had started to find trouble to score. A Stonerook slam caused Tau call timeout at 53-51. Mickeal nailed a mid-range jumper, which Stonerook bettered with a three-pointer, good for a 56-53 Montepaschi edge. McDonald scored again, but Sato buried a corner triple to keep Montepaschi ahead, 59-55. McIntyre fed Eze for a wild alley-oop dunk, as Tau could not find any open shots until Sergi Vidal hit a three-pointer. Mickeal shined with a fast break layup to tie it again, 61-61, after 30 minutes.
Tau improved its aggressiveness under the rims, but failed to score in a five-chance possession, allowing Montepaschi to get its confidence back. Meanwhile, Lavrinovic dunked it off a spin move, but Splitter also slammed it in other end. Singleton made free throws, but when Thornton followed a power layup with more foul shots, Montepaschi took a 67-65 edge. Thornton fouled out on the following play, however, allowing Rakocevic to tie the game again. Lavrinovic stepped up with an alley-oop layup, which Splitter bettered with a basket-plus-foul. McIntyre sank his second triple to restore a 72-70 Montepaschi edge midway through the fourth quarter. Sato and Rakocevic traded free throws before a power layup by Carraretto gave Montepaschi a 76-72 edge. Splitter shined with another three-point play and soon added a layup after a Montepaschi timeout. Sato sank free throws, as Tau called timeout at 1:46 remaining. Splitter scored again, after which Sato and Rakocevic missed respective jumpers. With the game winding down and Montepaschi down 1, Lavrinovic was fouled after grabbing a McIntyre miss. He made one but missed the second to tie the score and Planinic’s last ditch effort to win it went wide, sending the game to overtime.
McIntyre scored the first points of the extra session from the line after drawing a foul while trying to shoot from beyond the arc. Rakocevic kept his team on track with a fast-break layup. Lavrinovic free throws kept Montepaschi ahead and Mickeal countered with only 1. Montepaschi didn’t capitalize and a Singleton triple put Tau ahead by 1, but just as quickly, Lavrinovci buried a three from the top of the key after which Stonerook made it 88-85 from the line. Singleton missed a jumper and Ilievski pushed the lead to 5 with a minute to go. Tau took a timeout, but Rakocevic missed a layup and Stonerook sealed the Montepaschi win with a triple.
Sunday, May 4, 2008