| With record-setting defense, Montepaschi Siena sent a message of intended dominance to Group A as it opened the regular season by crushing Cibona 40-85 on the road in Zagreb. The defensive effort of Montepaschi head coach Simone Pianigiani’s squad was so complete that it made the history books. No home team has ever been held to a lower offensive output in the Euroleague as Cibona was on Wednesday. The previous record for the lowest score by a home team was 48, held by Lietuvos Rytas. Cibona's meager point total also ties Kinder Bologna for the third.lowest by any team in Euroleague history (the lowest score all-time is 35 points by Krka Novo Meso). Montepaschi controlled the game in the first half and then blew it wide open in the second on the strength of an 8-32 third quarter. The key was defense, defense, and more defense. Montepaschi forced Cibona into 27 turnovers and a 3-for-25 nightmare from beyond the arc. Ksistof Lavrinovic paced the blowout, a game-high 26 points, making 4 of 5 three-pointers. All-Euroleague point guard Terrell McIntrye dished out 11 assists; Romain Sato added 14 points, while Benjamin Eze and David Hawkins chipped in 8 points each. Only one Cibona player scored more than five points, Marko Tomas, who ended up with 12.
Eze got the scoring going with a dunk off a pass from Hawkins to spark a 0-8 Montepaschi run that opened the game The home team finally got on the board with a post move for 2 points by Bojan Bogdanovic. The Cibona forward continued to bang away on the inside for 4 more quick points, and a strong drive plus foul by Jamont Gordon tied the game at 10-10. The score stayed knotted till Hawkins threaded a pass to a streaking Eze for a layup. Shaun Stonerook drained a three-pointer from the wing to start a 2-9 run for Montepaschi. That included three points from Lavrinovic, while Cibona stayed cold from the field. Tomas hit 2 free throws to stop the bleeding, but the quarter ended 14-21 for the visitors as Montepaschi had already tallied an assist for each of its seven baskets.
Nikos Zisis scored on a fastbreak off a nice pass by Lavrinovic to start the second quarter. Cibona continued to struggle and Lavrinovic drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to break the ten-point barrier, 15-26. Cibona, sensing the game could get away, stepped up their defense. Tomas hit 2 free throws, and Tomislav Zubcic a three-pointer to pull Cibona back to within 20-26, forcing a Montepaschi timeout. Out of the stoppage of play, Tomas put back his own miss, but Marco Carraretto sank an open three-pointer off a mini-break. The game turned into a defensive fight for both teams until Lavrinovic notched foul shots and then drained another triple from the top of the arc to give the visitors a 22-34 lead. Montepaschi forced Cibona into its second backcourt violation of the quarter before Tomas drove in for a finger-roll, but McIntrye's free throw sent Montepaschi into the break ahead 24-35.
Sato hit 4 straight free throws and Hawkins banged home a layup off the break for the first 6 points of the second half, forcing a Cibona timeout. The discussion did not help as Cibona gave the ball up again, Hawkins hit 2 more from the line, and McIntyre dropped a bomb from long-range. Tomas made free throws, but it was not the break Cibona was looking for. Instead, Hawkins fed Sato for an easy layup and Eze swished a turnaround jumper from the baseline. Luksa Andric finally got Cibona on the board in the half with two freebies, but Lavrinovic nailed another three, and a steal converted into two easy points by Henry Domercant put the score at 28-55. Cibona head coach Velimir Perasovic called for time, but nothing could stem the Montepaschi tide. Sato stole the ball again and slammed it home one-handed before his free throws marked a 31-point lead, 28-59. Cibona, completely frazzled, in-bounded the ball directly to Sato under his own basket for an easy slam. Marin Rozic made free throws then, but the home fans were in no mood for clapping as Montepaschi ended the quarter ahead by 32-67.
With both teams knowing the game had long been decided, the fourth quarter was played at a slower pace, but that did not stop Montepaschi from extending its lead. Zisis scored on a drive to break the seventy-point mark at 37-71, and Lavrinovic hit his fourth three-pointer from the wing. Tomas finally got a triple to fall, but Lavrinovic worked in the paint to push the score to 40-78. To put the final touch on a great team performance, Denis Marconato came off the bench to score the basket that doubled the score at 40-80. With Cibona's resistence long gone, Domercant nailed a triple and Zisis free throws to finish Montepaschi's breathtaking, season-opening road win.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009