Montepaschi Siena needed one of the biggest comebacks in recent Euroleague history to beat Asvel Basket 65-82 in Lyon, France on Wednesday night. Montepaschi rallied from an early 21-point deficit to stay undefeated atop the Group A standings. Meanwhile, Asvel dropped to 0-3 and needs to start winning right away to rejoin the Top 16 race. Romain Sato paced the winners with 33 points - 23 of them in the second half - and 6 rebounds. Henry Domercant added 14 points while Terrell McIntyre dished 10 assists for Montepaschi. Bobby Dixon had 20 points for Asvel while Ali Traore added 11. Dixon and Mindaugas Lukauskis took over in an early 14-0 run that gave Asvel a 16-2 margin. A layup by Traore soon made it a 21-point game, 29-8, late in the first quarter. Montepaschi dramatically improved its defense in the second quarter, allowing just 3 points in the next 10 minutes. In fact, Montepaschi tied a Euroleague record for least points allowed in a quarter by a visiting team - Le Mans also limited Efes Pilsen to 3 points in a 53-64 home win on November 9, 2006. McIntyre, David Hawkins and Sato brought the guests back to life. A buzzer-beating triple by McIntyre got Siena within 32-31 at halftime. An outstanding Sato allowed Montepaschi to get a safe 48-59 margin after 30 minutes. Asvel managed to get within 60-62 but Shaun Stonerook and Sato shined in crunch time to win it for the guests.
Traore got Asvel going with a turnaround jumper and soon added a layup in transition for a 4-2 score, as Asvel tried to feed its most effective low post player in the opening minutes. Dixon shined with a layup off a midcourt steal while Eric Campbell added a corner three-pointer to make Montepaschi call timeout at 9-2. Dixon struck from downtown and Montepaschi even struggled to find shots now. Lukauskis banked in a mid-range shot while Dixon added a rainbow jumper to cap a 14-0 run and give Asvel a 16-2 margin. Dixon - who else? - sank his second triple but Domercant answered from downtown for a 19-6 Montepaschi deficit. Laurent Foirest found space for a wide open triple and soon added free throws to make it an 18-point game, 24-6. McIntyre took over with an outstanding driving layup but Lukauskis joined the three-point shootout and Traore added a layup for a 29-8 Asvel margin. Benjamin Eze dunked it to bring Siena within 29-10 after 10 minutes.
Montepaschi improved its defense early in the second quarter, making Asvel go scoreless for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, Domercant buried his second triple to give the guests some hope at 29-13. McIntyre managed to find the right game rhythm and a three-pointer by Marco Carrareto made Asvel call timeout at 30-16. The hosts tried to improve their ball circulation with Aymeric Jeanneau and Dixon as twin point guards. Asvel kept committing turnovers, however, while Sato joined the three-point shootout for a 30-19 Siena deficit, after a 1-11 run. Traore scored down low but Sato found space for an uncontested layup. Montepaschi kept rolling, as Hawkins made 4-of-4 free throws to bring the guests even closer, 32-25. Asvel tried to speed up the game tempo but Montepaschi was now its usual self in defense and the hosts' offense collapsed. Sato followed a free throw with an uncontested layup while McIntyre beat the buzzer with a wild turnaround three-pointer that got Montepaschi as close as 32-31 at halftime.
Dixon buried a seven-meter bomb immediately after the break, as Montepaschi now opted to take more outside shots instead of attacking the basket. Shaun Stonerook answered from downtown while free throws by Sato completed the guests' comeback, 35-36. Asvel struggled to find Traore down low but Dixon stepped up with a floating jumper. Montepaschi kept finding its go-to guy, as a red hot Sato banked in a turnaround jumper, soon added a big three-pointer and made Asvel call timeout with a fast break layup, 37-43. Dixon kept pacing Asvel with a three-pointer but Sato and a driving layup by McIntyre kept Montepaschi way ahead at 40-47. Domercant took over with an off-balance driving layup that Ben Dewar matched with free throws. Both teams had entered the foul bonus and kept going to the free throw line often now. Victor Samnick scored in the paint but Sato - who else? - bettered that with a corner triple and added a six-meter jumper. A power layup by Bangaly Fofana brought Asvel within 48-57 after 30 minutes.
Asvel needed a quick comeback to return to the game but Montepaschi kept dominating the game tempo through an outstanding McIntyre. He fed Stonerook for a wide open triple that Samnick erased with a layup-plus-foul. Asvel improved its intensity in defense but the guests controlled the game with impressing man-to-man defense. Jeanneau made free throws, making Montepaschi call timeout at 53-60. Traore scored again but a power layup by Hawkins gave Siena some fresh air, 55-62, with 6 minutes left. Campbell downed a three-pointer while free throws by Dewar brought Asvel back in the game, 60-62. Stonerook silenced the crowd with his third triple while Sato scored in peneration to make Asvel stop the game at 60-67. Sato kept pacing Montepaschi while McIntyre fed Eze for an easy layup that sealed the outcome, 62-71, with 3 minutes to go. Asvel kept trying but Montepaschi had already cruised to a well-deserved win in come-from-behind fashion!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009