Montepaschi Siena earned the right to finish first or second in regular season Group A by edging Asvel Basket 83-74 at home on Wednesday. Montepaschi is second in Group A with a 7-1 record and locked at least second place due to its lead against Asvel and Fenerbahce Ulker, that tied for third place each with a 3-5 record. Asvel faces a pivotal home game against Regal FC Barcelona right after the holiday break in its race to make it to the Top 16. Ksistof Lavrinovic led the winners with 16 points. Terrell McIntyre added 13, Henry Domercant had 12 while Romain Sato got 11 for Montepaschi. Mindaugas Lukauskis led Asvel with 20 points Rawle Marshall added 18 while Ali Traore and Victor Samnick each had 10 for the guests. Lukauskis allowed Asvel to get an early 11-18 lead but Lavrinovic, Nikos Zisis and Domercant fueled a 14-1 run that allowed Montepaschi to get a four-point lead, 36-32, at halftime. Asvel trailed all the way in the second half but managed to get within 57-56 late in the third quarter. Lavrinovic led a 12-0 run that broke the game open, 69-56. Asvel mananged to get within 78-74 with a minute left but a three-pointer by Lavrinovic sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Both teams struggled to score in the early going, as a free throw by Benjamin Eze followed a free throw with a big basket in the low post for a 3-2 Montepaschi lead. Eze blocked a shot and raced downcourt for an easy dunk that Lukauskis matched with free throws. Sato found his first points on a jumper but Marshall followed a driving layup with free throws and Lukauskis downed a triple for a 7-11 Asvel edge. Eric Campbell and Sato traded layups, as Montepaschi slowly adjusted its man-to-man defense. David Hawkins sank free throws but the hosts kept missing open shots. Marshall scored in transition, as the hosts tried to open the court with Lavrinovic and Tomas Ress together on court. Asvel kept collecting steals and free throws by Bobby Dixon and Lukauskis boosted the guests' lead to 11-18. Domercant and Lavrinovic made foul shots to bring Montepaschi back to life, 15-18, after 10 minutes.
Lavrinovic scored inside early in the second quarter but Marshall quickly answered with a driving basket. Montepaschi tried to play more aggressive with Marco Carrareto and Domercant at both wings. Asvel struggled to score now but kept excelling in defense. Traore took over with a layup-plus-foul but a driving layup by Zisis kept the hosts as close as 19-23. Ress downed an open triple to make Asvel call timeout at 22-23. Carrareto joined the three-point shootout and even when Asvel switched to a 2-3 zone defense, Domercant struck from downtown for a 28-24 Montepaschi lead. Zisis hit a free throw while a second-chance layup by Shaun Stonerook capped a 14-1 Montepaschi run. Asvel did not panic, however, as Lukauskis and Marshall drilled back-to-back three-pointers to bring the guests within 31-30. Dixon shined with an off-balance basket but free throws by Carrareto and a buzzer-beating layup by Hawkins gave the hosts at 36-32 edge at halftime.
McIntyre returned to the floor after the break to improve his team's ball circulation. Traore buried his trademark left-handed hook shot that Sato bettered with a three-pointer. Asvel could not find the way to the basket until Traore shined with an acrobatic layup to keep the guests within 39-37. Sato sank an off-balance jumper that Lukauskis erased with a quick basket. Sato kept pacing Montepaschi with free throws that Samnick matched in the other end. McIntyre took over with a his trademark three-pointer from the key that Stonerook followed with foul shots to get Montepaschi out of trouble at 47-41. McIntyre hit free throws and fed Denis Marconato for an easy jumper to boost the hosts' lead to 52-43. Samnick tried to change things with a layup-plus-foul, Marshall added free throws and Kristjan Kangur downed an open triple to bring Asvel within 52-51. McIntyre rescued Montepaschi with a triple that Marshall erased with a layup-plus-foul. McIntyre and Ben Dewar traded free throws and a layup by Lavrinovic fixed the score at 59-56 after 30 minutes.
Domercant buried a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter and Lavrinovic added a free throw to make it a seven-point game, 63-56. Asvel struggled to score right when it mattered and an off-balance driving layup by Domercant made the guests call timeout at 65-56. Domercant scored again in penetration and a free throw by Ress capped a game-breaking 12-0 Montepaschi run. Asvel had been scoreless for 4 minutes until Dixon downed a three-pointer. Ress shined with a put-back dunk and Lavrinovic added an acrobatic layup for a 73-61 score. Samnick hit a jump hook and a three-pointer by Lukauskis gave Asvel some hope at 73-66. Marshall shined with a driving layup but Asvel had entered the foul bonus and the hosts made the most out of it. Stonerook and Lavrinovic made free throws but a floating jumper by Lukauskis brought Asvel within 75-71 with 2 minutes to go. McIntyre and Kangur traded three-pointers but Lavrinovic also struck from downtown to seal the outcome, 81-74. Asvel kept trying but Montepaschi had cruised to a well-deserved home win.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009