Turkish Airlines Euroleague
June 19, 2013
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Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
February MVP: Bootsy Thornton, Montepaschi Siena
Some of the most crucial games of any Euroleague season come in the first half of the Top 16, when a good start to the new round can point the way toward bigger success later. Only two teams won all three Top 16 games in February, and between them, Montepaschi Siena was the bigger surprise. To win a crucial overtime game on the road and then to stop the defending champions, Siena relied on the experience of the last holdover from the club's previous Final Four teams, Marvis "Bootsy" Thornton, who is Euroleague Basketball's choice as MVP for February. Thornton showed all month that, true to his history in the competition, he keeps lifting his performance precisely when the games get tougher. Thornton did so in his first go-round with Siena, in the 2003-04 season, almost doubling his numbers during the Top 16 and Final Four. Last month, he got rid of the "almost", more than doubling his regular season scoring average to assure Siena's perfect 3-0 record and first-place standing in Group D of the Top 16. After his eight-steal performance in a home victory over Partizan Igokea to open the Top 16, Thornton willed in a crucial late shot to seal an overtime win at Efes Pilsen and then led all scorers as Siena undid visiting Panathinaikos at home. Playing always within Siena's team-oriented system, Thornton finished the month with 16.7 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals on average while helping his team's defense limit opponents to fewer than 70 points per game. For fitting perfectly into an undefeated Top 16 team but stepping up when needed, Bootsy Thornton is a more-than-deserving choice as Euroleague Basketball's MVP for February.
Euroleague Basketball's MVP of the Month honor is in its fourth season. Although statistics and performance ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance during the previous month or more. The award for February was decided considering the three Top 16 games played by all teams during that month.
In February's first game, the Top 16 opener at home against Partizan, Thornton was credited with 8 steals as Siena's defense shut down the visitors in a solid 71-54 decision. He also scored 9 points and pulled 4 rebounds. Next, in the first away game of the round, Siena faced an Efes Pilsen team that had defeated Panathinaikos at home the previous week. Efes was leading by 11 points shortly before halftime when Thornton scored 6 in a row to make it a close game the rest of the way. He was there, too, with 18 seconds left in overtime to make an acrobatic shot that assured Montepaschi the 76-79 victory behind his team-high 18 points. Panathinaikos visited the next week with some not-so-slight pressure to steal a road win, but Siena stayed a step ahead of the champs all game to win 84-75. Thornton was the pace-setter on offense again, pouring in a game-high 23 points. His scoring included 5 points in a row when Siena fell behind soon after the tipoff, 6 more to start the second half and a key fourth-quarter triple when Panathinaikos had rallied to within 3 points of tying. By the time Thornton and his teammates were done, Siena had finished a perfect month sitting alone atop Group D with the biggest lead of any team in the Top 16.
Thornton had made his Euroleague debut and been Siena's top scorer at the 2004 Final Four, so his return this season was a treat in itself for the local fans. His performance in February, leading a workmanlike team to a perfect month in the toughest stage of the season, will have those fans dreaming bigger dreams now. They will also get to celebrate with Thornton again when he receives the February MVP award at an upcoming home game.
Monday, March 03, 2008
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