|Game 3 of what has been arguably the most entertaining Quarterfinal Series so far takes place on Tuesday in Siena, Italy, where Montepaschi hosts Panathinaikos in their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series. The series is knotted at 1-1 after a pair of tense games in Athens, Greece. Game 3 and 4 take place in Italy with a fifth and deciding game – if necessary – to be held back in Greece. Both teams pulled out all the stops in Game 2, getting contributions from injured stars that were doubtful to play. The Greens called upon guard Dimitris Diamantidis, who was sidelined with a thigh injury, to step in and play 22 minutes, while the Italian champs played All-Euroleague big man Ksistof Lavrinovic for 16 minutes despite a broken hand. Those two stars could have even bigger roles in Game 3, especially considering the fact that nether had domestic games over the weekend, giving Panathinaikos head coach Zeljko Obradovic and his Montepaschi counterpart Simone Pianigiani plenty of extra time to prepare for Game 3. The big issue in the games so far has been inside, with Panathinaikos’s super-deep frontcourt of Mike Batiste, Nikola Pekovic, Antonis Fotsis and Kostas Tsartsaris trying to take advantage of Montepaschi, which was forced to use 1.94-meter forward Romain Sato or the inexperienced Luca Lechthaler inside when starters Shaun Stonerook or Ben Eze fell into foul trouble. The return of Lavrinovic changes the balance in the paint a bit and more success on the glass for Montepaschi could translate into more baskets in transition for the team. On the perimeter, Montepaschi’s star and on-court leader Terrell McIntyre will take on Diamantidis in a classic matchup, while Rimas Kaukenas, Henry Domercant and Sato are the hosts’ main weapons on the wings. The Greek champs counter with Vassilis Spanoulis, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Drew Nicholas at guard and Stratos Perperoglu at small forward. This series has been the highest-scoring of the four this far and Game 3 figures to be another battle of scorers. The home team will be desperate to get point from someone aside from McIntye, Kaukenas and Sato, hoping that someone down low heats up to balance the Montepaschi attack. Four different Panathinaikos players have scored in double figures in both games so far and the Greens will hope that offensive diversity makes a difference down the stretch in Game 3. With two teams now healthy and featuring talented and experienced squads that have met four times already this season, this game is must-see basketball. Nevertheless, Montepaschi’s 14-game home-court winning streak does give Pianigiani’s men a certain advantage that will be tough for Panathinaikso to wipe away.
- Montepaschi Siena has won 14 straight and 18 of its last 19 Euroleague home games dating back to the start of last season.
- All-Euroleague playmaker Terrell McIntyre has made at least 1 three-pointer in 14 straight appearances. (27 for 64)
- McIntyre has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games.
- Center Ben Eze needs 1 more block to move into a tie for 20th place on the Euroleague Basketball career blocked shots chart. Eze is currently tied with Panathinaikos’s Dimitris Diamantidis for 21st place with 68 blocks. Patrick Femerling of Alba Berlin and Viktor Khryapa of CSKA, who also plays on Tuesday, are tied for 19th and 20th place with 69 blocks.
- Guard Henry Domercant has made his last 22 free throws over a span of 11 games. He is shooting 93.1% from the line for the season.
- Forward Romain Sato set Euroleague career highs with 29 points and a 40 index in the Game 1 loss at Panathinaikos.
- Domercant matched his Euroleague career high with 29 points against Panathinaikos in an April 2005 Quarterfinal Playoff game. Domercant, then with Efes Pilsen, scored 29 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in a 102-96 overtime loss at OAKA. Current Panathinaikos swingman Dusan Kecman was a teammate of Domercant on that team.
- Ariel McDonald spent two seasons playing for Panathinaikos, winning two Greek championships and one Greek Cup. Aside from head coach Zeljko Obradovic, McDonald will be reunited with former teammates Fragiskos Alvertis, Mike Batiste, Nikos Hatzivrettas, Dusan Sakota and Kostas Tsartsaris.
- Reserve shooting guard Marco Carraretto set Euroleague career bests in points and three-point shooting when he went 5 for 5 from downtown and finished with 15 points in Montepaschi’s win over Panathinaikos in January.
- Guard Dimitris Diamantidis needs 1 more block to move into a tie for 20th place on the Euroleague Basketball career blocked shots chart. Diamantidis is currently tied with Montepaschi’s Ben Eze for 21st place with 68 blocks. Patrick Femerling of Alba Berlin and Viktor Khryapa of CSKA, who also plays on Tuesday, are tied for 19th and 20th place with 69 blocks.
- Power forward Antonis Fotsis and Montepaschi guard Henry Domercant were teammates at Dynamo Moscow last season, helping the club reach the ULEB Cup semifinals.
- Guard Sarunas Jasikevicius was a teammate of Montepaschi big man Ksistof Lavrinovic and guard Rimas Kaukenas on the Lithuanian Olympic team last summer. Jasikevicius and Lavrinovic were also teammates on the Lithuanian side that won the 2003 European championships in Sweden.
- Big man Mike Batiste scored a season-high 28 points against Montepaschi when they met in January.
Monday, March 30, 2009