| After scoring just 36 points in the first 20 minutes, Montepaschi Siena exploded for 56 more in the second half to turn a tight game into a 90-64 blowout of Cibona Zagreb. Montepaschi is now all but mathematically qualified for the Top 16. Montepaschi can clinch a Top 16 berth when it visits Zalgiris next week. With the loss, Cibona fell to 1-5 and now has no margin of error as it heads into the final 4 games of the regular season. The Croatian champs host Regal FC Barcelona in Week 7. Terrell McIntyre and Romain Sato led the way with 15 points apiece. Ksistof Lavrinovic scored 13 while Nikos Zisis and Benjamin Eze added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Luksa Andric paced Cibona with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Marko Tomas seconded him with 10 points and 4 assists and Jamont Gordon scored 8 points to go with 4 assists in the losing effort. After setting a record for fewest points scored by a home team with just 40 in its Week 1 debacle versus Montepaschi, Cibona looked like a totally different team on Thursday night in the first half. Early on Cibona did not let Montepaschi get into any type of rhythm playing an aggressive man-on-man defense. The second half was another story altogether. Montepaschi turned a 2-point deficit into a 16-point lead on the strength of a 26-8 run. Cibona cut the deficit to 10 going into the final quarter, but Montepaschi controlled the fourth period and cruised to the big win.
McIntyre got free for a triple from the top of the key to strike first for Montepaschi. Gordon drove and dished a no-look pass to Vedran Vukusic who hit a bank shot to get the visitors on the board. Henry Domercant found Eze inside for a layup, but Andric put back his own miss to keep up the frenetic pace set by the hosts. Sato scored a field goal before Andric tiptoed along the baseline for 2 points. Montepaschi went ahead 13-6 on back-to-back threes by McIntyre and Domercant. Vukusic attacked the basket and got a tough layup to fall. Eze went 3 of 4 from the foul line to go up 16-8. But Tomas made a floater in the lane, Leon Radosevic added a pair of foul shots and Cibona turned up the defense to force Montepaschi into a 24-second violation. Tomas collapsed the defense and then kicked out to the open Vedran Princ for a three. Princ then picked McIntyre’s pocket and Tomas assisted Vukusic for the layup to take a 16-17 lead. Montepaschi did not find the solution in a timeout as the visitors kept up their defensive pressure and Bojan Bodganvic capped the 0-11 run with a steal he turned into 2 easy points. McIntyre finally scored on a drive, but his team was still down 18-19 after 10 minutes.
Radosevic opened the second period with a drive for 2 points. Lavrinovic put back his own miss back after an offensive board from Sato kept the possession alive. Rozic hit again for 2 points, but Lavrinovic then backed his defender down and hit a half hook. Lavrinovic, knowing his team needed someone to take the initiative, got a baseline jumper to bounce in to even the score at 24-24. Montepaschi tried pressing full court, but Tomas found a wide-open Tomislav Zubcic in the corner for a three-pointer. Tomas Ress punched right back with a three of his own. Both teams had trouble moving the scoreboard as the game turned into a defensive duel. Tomas had to work hard to get a layup to fall, 28-31. Zisis made 2 free throws, and Montepaschi tried a zone defense that Tomas took no time in breaking with a deep three-pointer. Gordon put in an offensive board, and Cibona also tried switching to a zone, but it had the same result as Lavrinovic hit from downtown to end the half 34-36.
McIntyre fed Eze for a dunk to tie the game on the opening play of the third quarter. Tomas hit right back with a jumper on the baseline. Sato was fouled taking a shot from behind the arc by Rozic and made all 3 free throws to grab a 39-38 lead for the home team. Shaun Stonerook scored 5 straight on 2 free throws and a long range bomb as Montepaschi tightened up its defense and moved ahead by 6 points. McIntyre tossed in 2 more free throws to extend the lead. Vukusic scored with the shot clock ticking down to try and spark some life in his team, but Domercant put back his own miss and McIntyre and Stonerook dropped consecutive three-pointers to take a 54-43 lead. McIntyre hit a three from way behind the arc to push the lead out to 14. Gordon made a monster block of a layup attempt by David Hawkins, but McIntyre ended up at the line where he made 2 more. Seeing his team on the brink of defeat, Andric stepped up and scored 6 points, all from the foul line, in a 0-9 spurt for Cibona to cut the deficit to 7 points. With the clock running down, Stonerook passed to Hawkins who nailed a three to send Montepaschi into the final period up 63-53.
Eze began the fourth with a great block. The two sides traded free throws before Sato made a nice jump shot from the baseline. Eze cut to the basket like a guard and Lavrinovic found him for a layup, and Sato made 2 more points from the foul line. Gordon penetrated for a slam before Marco Carraretto and Bogdanovic exchanged three-pointers. Eze stayed aggressive and powered his way to 2 more points in the post. Zisis swished a short jumper, and Montepaschi went ahead by 21 on a couple of free throws by Carraretto. Lavrinovic connected on a three-pointer before Andric scored inside. Zisis put his team up 25 points on a three-pointer. Veteran center Denis Marconato moved into third place in the list of offensive rebounds in the history of the Euroleague when he pulled in a miss by Zisis late in game as his team began to celebrate with their fans.
Thursday, December 3, 2009