For the second straight week, Montepaschi marked its territory in Siena on Wednesday with a solid 80-71 victory over visiting Unicaja of Spain. Montepaschi now sits comfortably at 2-1 in Group B knowing that it has established a homecourt advantage. Unicaja fell to 0-3 and will need to do the same in Malaga or face more trouble in this tough group. David Vanterpool led Montepaschi ith 23 points while making 8 of his 12 shots from the field. Vanterpool also had 5 steals among 19 for Montepaschi, which helped overcome Unicaja's 46-27 advantage in rebounds. Vanterpool was followed for Montepaschi by Roberto Chiacig with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Mikalis Kakiouzis added 12. For Unicaja, Larry Lewis, Louis Bullock and German Gabriel all hit for 11 points. Gabriel rounded out a great performance with 13 rebounds, while Stephane Risacher contributed 10 points.
The match started with a mad pace and even though both teams played with a tough, physical attitude on defense, a barrage of shots rained into the baskets. After 5 minutes, Montepaschi had a 11-8 lead. Unicaja head coach Sergio Scariolo had chosen Walter Herrmann as swingman in the starting five, and Siena boss Charlie Recalcati answered by switching to a 3-2 defense. Louis Bullock and Stephane Risacher were sidelined and the guests couldn't find an easy way to the basket against the tight defense of Siena. Only German Gabriel broke though, firing one time from middle range, while Montepaschi had precious points from Roberto Chiacig inside the paint. Still, Unicaja stayed close as Larry Lewis made a two-handed dunk to cut the deficit to 17-14. But David Vanterpool closed quarter with a jumper for a 19-14 Montepaschi advantage.
Dusan Vukcevic joined Vanterpool off the bench to give Montepaschi fastbreaks and perimeter fire on the way to a 30-19 breakaway in the early second quarter. While Lewis was resting for Unicaja, Frederic Weis entered in the game with 4 straight points and a great presence under the boards. He helped Unicaja close the gap to 33-30 while Risacher drilled the first shot from downtown for the visitors. But just as easily, in two minutes, Montepaschi took back a double-digit lead thanks to excellent defense which was holding Unicaja star Louis Bullock scoreless. Montepaschi got a corner triple from Mikalis Kakiouzis and Vanterpool was up to 16 points already as the hosts posted a 46-34 advantage at intermission.
The second half saw Bootsy Thornton return for Montepaschi with 2 quick baskets, but Unicaja answered with 6 points in a row, including Bullock's first basket, a triple, and Chuck Kornegay's basket-plus-foul in the low post. Unicaja was within 48-40 then, but Siena merely answered with a 7-0 run that included a beautiful jumper by Kakiouzis over the hands of Weis. Carlos Cabezas of Unicaja was doing everything to slow Vanterpool, but already Montepaschi found another answer in Kakiouzis, who drilled his third three-pointer to put his team ahead 58-42. David Andersen would add his first 2 points for Siena before the quarter ended with the locals clearly in command at 63-48.
Unicaja chose a zone defense to start the last period, but Recalcati answered with the only Andersen under the boards and four shooters. Vrbica Stefanov opened the Unicaja defense with 2 straight triples, boosting the lead to 69-51. Berni Rodriguez of Unicaja completed an amazing basket-plus-free throw on a difficult off-balance shot. Andersen started show-time by finishing a high pick-and-roll with a dunk assisted by Vukcevic, who then scored himself for 73-51. Unicaja then put up 7 points in a row, but by that time Montepaschi had a safe victory in its hands.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003