Finding itself in the rare position of needing a comeback on its own floor, Montepaschi rallied to beat visiting Barcelona 88-85 in another Group B thriller in Siena, Italy on Thursday. Barcelona had earned double-digit leads twice, but Montepaschi was able to escape danger as Carlton Myers and Bootsy Thornton shot their team to victory at the end. The outcome tied Montepaschi and Barcelona with 3-2 records which they share with Scavolini Pesaro, all three in second place behind unbeaten Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group B. Thornton led the way with 24 points for the winners, while Carlton Myers sank 4 triples among his 14. David Vanterpool added 14 points and Efthimios Rentzias 13.for the winners. Gregor Fucka was the top scorer for Barcelona with 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting. Dejan Bodiroga drilled 14 points while Vlado Ilievski had 13, Jordi Trias 11 and Juan Carlos Navarro 10.
Vanterpool opened the scoring and Fucka immediately replied from downtown and quickly caught fire. He played all his outside-inside possibilities until running into a tough duel with Rentzias, whose inside attacks joined with Vanterpool's open court game to let Montepaschi strike a balance on the scoreboard. Roberto Chiacig came off the bench with 4 points in a row and an incredible block on Bodiroga. Ilievski sank a sweet rainbow for Barcelona and Trias followed suit to bring the guests ahead 19-21. Vanterpool tied before the Rentzias-Fucka duel resumed. Each scored another basket, but Ilievski's off-balance jumper closed the quarter by giving Barcelona a slim 23-25 edge.
Rodrigo De la Fuente's two-handed fastbreak dunk early in the second quarter boosted the visitors' advantage to 26-31. Montepaschi called timeout and coach Carlo Recalcati ordered a zone defense, but Barcelona fired with high percentages from downtown as Navarro's triple made it 26-34. Trias added a powerful basket-plus-free throw and Roger Grimau converted a steal into a fastbreak layup as Barcelona's lead soared to 13 points, 26-39. Montepaschi finally reacted when Thornton scored from the arc and Michalis Kakiouzis added a jumper. Navarro made a magic shot for a new double-digit advantage, but Vanterpool beat the halftime buzzer with a triple to lock the scoreboard at 39-45.
Fucka with a high hook kept his perfect shooting show going and then received a lighting assist from Bodiroga as Barcelona reestablished a big lead, 43-53, early in the third quarter. Thornton struck from downtown, but Bodiroga answered with a layup. Benjamin Eze helped Montepaschi stay in the game with a reverse dunk, just before Thornton took over with a three-point shot and a fastbreak assist to Vanterpool that brought the hosts within 53-56. Barcelona needed an answer and put the ball into the hot hands of Fucka. He scored twice while Ilievski and Trias buried triples in a 0-10 Barcelona run to a new 53-66 difference that unsettled the home crowd. Thornton tried to keep their hopes up, but Barcelona nontheless was in charge, 57-69, with 10 minutes to play.
Now Montepaschi needed someone, and that person was Myers. He made the first shot of the final quarter, then stepped up and hit back-to-back triples to cut Barcelona's advantage in half. Ilievski froze the home crowd with a triple, but Thornton copied him and Montepaschi was within 71-73. As Ilievski finished another difficult shot, the drama heightened. Myers now raised the crowd up with a triple to put Montepaschi ahead 78-77. Barcelona put the ball in the safe hands of Bodiroga, who scored 4 straight points, but Giacomo Galanda kept Montepaschi within 80-81 with an offensive rebound. Myers scored again from the arc, again putting the hosts ahead, 83-81. Montepaschi's defense stopped Barcelona on the next trip, then Thornton drove on Fucka and scored just under the 24-second deadline. Barcelona needed points but Navarro got called for an offensive foul. Then Barcelona lost Galanda in the paint and he made it 87-81 with a dunk. Barca kept scoring but ran out of time as Montepaschi completed its comeback for the victory.
Thursday, December 2, 2004