Montepaschi Siena held on to beat Union Olimpija 57-63
Montepaschi Siena advanced to the Top 16 on Thursday evening thanks to a thrilling win over hosting Union Olimpija by 57-63. Despite a starting 0-10 for the guests, Olimpija regrouped and thanks to smothering defense, even managed to jump ahead. However, a final 2 of 19 from the arc was too much for the hosts to bear and Montepaschi sealed the win with free throws. The win allows Montepaschi to improve to 5-2 in Group D and advances to the Top 16. This win also allows Unics, an earlier winner over Galatasaray, advance to the Toop 16 as well with a 5-1 record in its debut season. Union Olimpija is now 1-6 and has little options to advance now. Bo McCalebb led the way for the winners with 16 points, Igor Rakocevic added 14, David Moss 13 and David Andersen had 10 for the winners. For Olimpija, Ben Woodside had 11 points and three players added 10 apiece - Deon Thompson, Danny Green and Damir Markota -. Markota also pulled 15 rebounds for the hosts.
Montepaschi Siena started the game like a steamroller as it soon was up to 0-10. One three by Bo McCalebb and then five straight points by David Moss,
including his own three, sparked a run capped by Igor Rakocevic. It took Union Olimpija three minutes and 20 seconds to score its first points through Ratko
Varda. Danny Green was soon joining the party and between these two players, they allowed the hosts to pull within 9-13 after Varda's three. The Olimpija
defense was starting to work smoother and Montepaschi was finding more problems now to score, 11-15 after Sasu Salin's jumper. A couple David Andersen's
trademark spins in the paint, scored around Damir Markota's tip in, allowed Siena to seat in the driver's seat after 10 minutes, 15-21.
Things looked brighter for Olimpija at the start of the second quarter. The good defense of the hosts was keeping Montepaschi from putting the ball in the
basket while, on the other end, Ben Woodside hit the jumper and later Deon Thompson slammed to make it 19-21. Olimpija was also starting to pull offensive
boards and that forced a timeout by Siena. The momentum of Olimpija went on as they first tied the game and then Salin, from the line, put the hosts ahead
for the first time, 25-23, capping a 10-2 run. McCalebb and Ben Woodside traded threes and then Varda had his basket plus foul to put Olimpija four points
ahead, 30-26. The fans were also helping Olimpija increase its morale but then came Marco Carraretto and Rakocevic with consecutive threes to put Siena back
in command, 30-32. Thanks to free throws, the hosts restored their lead but Siena's third straight three, in the hands of Moss, and a final swirl of McCalebb
in the paint on the halftime buzzer allowed the guests to hit the lockerrooms with a 33-37 edge.
The pace of the game was still high in the third period. Moss, with a jumper, and Woodside with a drive and layup opened fire for Siena and Olimpija
respectively. The guests had a cold head now against the defensive alternatives of the hosts. Green had an acrobatic bucket and Rakocevic replied with a
three for 39-43. Siena was always maintaining a small cushion thanks to its individual talent with McCalebb and Andersen, while the will of Olimpija alllowed
them to stay in the game, 43-47 after Woodside free throws. Moss, in a good scoring night, blasted a new three while Markota tipped in his second offensive
rebound, 45-50. The 11 turnovers for Siena at this point were a factor for the hosts staying in the game because the 2 of 12 threes of Olimpija were becoming
a big burden as the clock advanced. In the last minute of the third period Markota was going on with his big performance but a new offensive rebound for
Andersen allowed him to close the third quarter with a 49-53 Montepaschi edge.
The mercury was rising in Ljubljana for the start of the last period. A huge block by Green allowed Thompson for an easy jumper in the other end, and when Capin hit a jumper to tie the game again, 53-53, almost 150 seconds had passed and Montepaschi was completely shut off by Olimpija's defense. The hosts worked extra hard in the defensive end and then Green hit a long floater to put Olimpija back ahead, making it a 6-0 run. McCalebb finally scored for the guests 4:35 minutes into the quarter. A few good defensive plays on both sides forcing turnovers allowed the clock to move forward fast again until McCalebb scored again for Siena. Whe Carraretto put an offensive rebound back in closing Siena's own 0-6 burst for 55-59, the hosts had to call a timeout because there were only 2:45 minutes left in the game. Olimpija kept trying threes that didn't go in and McCalebb made things clearer for the guests with two free throws, 55-61 and 28 seconds left. Woodside had a quick layup but two free throws by Rakocevic sealed the deal and put Montepaschi in the Top 16, along with Unics.
Thursday, December 1, 2011