Montepaschi Siena hosts Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday in a clash of Week 1 winners looking to stay atop Group A. Montepaschi crushed Cibona Zagreb 40-85 in its opener, setting a defensive record in the process for fewest points scored by a home team. While the whole team shined on defense, former All-Euroleague big man Ksistof Lavrinovic dominated with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals to pace the Montepaschi attack. Meanwhile Zalgiris routed Asvel Basket 72-51 in its opener behind 49 points from a trio of guards. While Mantas Kalnietis’s 17 points and career scoring leader Marcus Brown’s 16 were not big surprises, the 16 that rookie Marty Pocius netted off the bench in his debut helped lift Zalgiris to an easy win. The Zalgiris guards won’t have it that easy this time facing the pesky Montepaschi backcourt led by All-Euroleague playmaker Terrell McIntyre, Nikos Zisis, David Hawkins and Henry Domercant. With all four known for their play at both ends of the floor, Zalgiris’s guards must be at the top of their game to score like they did last week again. At small forward Zalgiris will line up veteran Dainius Salenga against Romain Sato. The hosts feature Lavrinovic, Shaun Stonerook and Ben Eze as their top players in the paint. They will battle Zalgiris’s former rebounding king Travis Watson and center Mirza Begic plus backups Povilas Cukinas and Tadas Klimavicius. Montepaschi’s trademark ball-hawking defense and its depth in addition to the home-court advantage mean that Zalgiris must play error-free to escape from Siena with a win. Added pressure will be on the likes of Brown, Watson and Salenga as the team elders to keep the rest of the roster composed. History does not shine brightly on Zalgiris’s chances. The team has dropped nine straight Euroleague road games, last winning away from home in January 2008. And Montepaschi is 18-3 at home over the past two seasons with its only losses coming against teams that would go on to win the Euroleague that season. That being said, another hot night from Pocius supporting Brown and Kalnietis could shake things up and give Zalgiris a chance at a big upset.
REFEREES: Daniel Hierrezuelo, Luis Lopes, Elias Koromilas
Henry Domercant scored a season-high 21 points against Zalgiris last season. He was 4 for 4 from downtown as Montepaschi won 100-93.
Ben Eze recorded the first of his two career double-doubles at Zalgiris in January 2008. Eze posted 10 points and 11 rebounds in a 75-69 loss.
Guard Nikos Zisis had one of the best games of his career against Zalgiris in December 2006 when he played for Benetton Treviso. Zisis scored 16, dished 11 assists and picked up 2 steals for a career-high 29 index as Benetton won 76-86.
All-Euroleague point guard Terrell McIntyre has drilled at least one three-pointer in 17 consecutive Euroleague games.
Center Ben Eze has a chance to move up on the Euroleague career shot-blocking charts. He is now tied for 14th place with 74 career blocks, needing just 6 more to crack the top 10.
Center Denis Marconato needs just 2 more offensive rebounds to reach Luis Scola for third place on the career list. Marconato has 274 offensive boards in his career.
Henry Domercant needs just 5 more three-pointers to crack the Euroleague career top 20. Domercant has made 161 triples.
Domercant has made 30 consecutive free throws over his past 14 Euroleague games.
Zalgiris has dropped nine straight Euroleague road games, last winning away from home in January 2008. Zalgiris beat Union Olimpija in that game. Four current Zalgiris players were at that game: Marcus Brown, Dainius Salenga and Mantas Kalnietis for Zalgiris and Mirza Begic for Olimpija.
Dainius Salenga needs just 5 more three-pointers to reach 100 for his Euroleague career.
Vytenis Cizauskas and Povilas Butkevicius are set to make their Euroleague debuts this season.
Former rebounding champ Travis Watson has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in each of his last four Euroleague appearances.
Marcus Brown and Montepaschi center Denis Marconato were teammates during the 2000-01 season at Benetton Treviso.