Cibona knocked off Montepaschi Siena 88-81 on Wednesday night at the Drazen Petrovic Basketball Center to start the Top 16 in style and send a message that it was a force to be reckoned with in Group H. The Italian champs dominated early, but Cibona's Davor Kus scored 13 points in the third quarter to lead his team back and Earl Calloway buried some big buckets down the stretch to earn the win. Montepaschi was doomed by foul trouble all evening as starting center Ben Eze fouled out in the third quarter, starting small forward Romain Sato fouled out in the fourth and starting power forward Shaun Stonerook – having a career-best evening with 4 three-pointers and 18 points – missed large chunks of the fourth quarter with 4 fouls. The turning point was a pair of unsportsmanlike fouls within one minute on Montepaschi point guard Terrell McIntyre and shooting guard Henry Domercant that led to 8 straight points from Calloway and Anderson midway through the fourth quarter as Cibona took the lead for good. Calloway led Cibona with a season-high 23 points and 4 assists, Kus scored all of his 18 points in the second half, Anderson added 16, Niks Prkacin had 13 and Luksa Andric grabbed rebounds for the winners. For Montepaschi, Ksistof Lavrinovic matched Stonerook with 18 points and McIntyre and Rimas Kaukenas had 12 apiece.
Cibona won the opening tip and Calloway fed Luksa Andric for the first basket of the Top 16 before Sato got Montepaschi on the scoreboard. After turnovers by both teams, Domercant put the visitors on top with a three-pointer and Stonerook followed to make it 2-8. Calloway set Anderson up for a three, but Eze’s fastbreak layup kept the visitors in control. Calloway’s first basket was followed by a score from Anderson, however Sato hit a jumper and later made a free throw before Lavrinovic scored on the break to make it 10-17. A Lavrinovic three-pointer took the guests’ advantage to double digits. Prkacin scored inside for Cibona only for McIntyre to better him with a three-point play. Vedran Vukusic corrected Marin Rozic’s miss and Calloway drew a second foul from McIntyre within a minute, sending the All-Euroleague playmaker to the bench and narrowing the gap to 7 with a pair of free throws. A Kaukenas triple helped the Italian champs keep a 17-25 lead after 10 minutes.
Lavrinovic set the tone with a block of a Vukusic shot at the start of the second period and Arriel McDonald netted 2 free throws to restore a double-digit lead. However Cibona came back quickly led by Rozic who stormed through the Montepaschi defense for a basket-plus-foul and then had a steal and layup to make it 24-27. The pace picked up with Kaukenas and Lavrinovic scoring for Montepaschi and Vukusic and Calloway matching for Cibona. Another Rozic strip and basket cut the gap to 30-31. Lavrinovic swooped in for a layup and Stonerook turned a steal into 2 free throws before McIntyre buried a triple as the visitors regained control. Lavrinovic capped a 0-9 run with a running jumper. Anderson ended the hosts’ dry spell from the line, but Sato increased the lead to 12 from the line. However Cibona did not give in as Calloway, Anderson and Rozic all scored to make it 38-44 at the break.
Kus’s first points came on a three-pointer that clawed Cibona within 3, but McIntyre answered with a jumper. Prkacin drove on Eze and drew the Montepaschi center’s fifth foul, sending him to the bench for the rest of the night. Kus followed with another three to make it 46-48. Calloway banked in a jumper to tie the score for the first time since the opening minutes. And then Kus was fouled shooting a three and made 3 free throws to put the hosts on top 51-48. Domercant hit from downtown to tie it again, but Kus remained hot with a baseline jumper. A ping-pong pace ensued with the lead changing hands one each of the next five possessions. Calloway put Cibona ahead again with a triple before Lavrinovic knotted the score at 62-62 with a jumper at the end of the third quarter.
Stonerook put Montepaschi back on top with a three-pointer. Rozic drove baseline and was fouled and the visiting head coach, Simone Pianigiani, was whistled for a foul for arguing. Kus free throws and a Prkacin basket in the paint put Cibona ahead before Stonerook fired in his fourth three of the night. Andric’s tip-in tied the score at 68-68. Lavrinovic connected on a three from the corner, but Calloway drew Stonerook’s fourth foul and then knocked down a three to tie it again. Kaukenas knocked down a jumper, but Domercant was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Anderson at the other end and Calloway’s third three made it 75-73. After a poor pass from McIntyre, he stopped Calloway on the break and was called for the team’s second unsportsmanlike foul in less than a minute. Calloway free throws followed by Anderson free throws put the hosts ahead 79-73. Stonerook came back and sank 2 free throws only to see Anderson do the same. Kaukenas scored on the break, however Lavrinovic’s poor pass cost Montepaschi a chance to get closer. And Kus buried a three at the end of the shot clock to put Cibona up 7 with three under three minutes to play. An offensive foul on Vukusic was his fifth, but Sato fouled out for Montepaschi at the other end. Stonerook and Kaukenas both missed from downtown in the final minute allowing the hosts to celebrate a big home win.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009