Montepaschi Siena bested Regal FC Barcelona 76-67
In a Group C showdown on Wednesday night, hosting Montepaschi Siena defeated defending champs Regal FC Barcelona by 76-67. In the first half, Siena punished
Barcelona's basket with no mercy, but the guests replied strongly and even managed to get in the lead at 30-31. In the second half however, Montepaschi
erased Barca from the court led by a stellar Bo McCalebb. The abscence of injured Juan Carlos Navarro proved to be a big obstacle for the guests that not
even debuting Joe Ingles could help overcome. This win, combined with Fenerbahe Ulker's loss at Cholet Basket allows Montepaschi Siena share the top spot in
Group C with a 4-1 record, while Barcelona drops to 3-2. McCalebb led the way for the winners with his 21 points. Milovan Rakovic added 13 and Ksistof
Lavrinovic posted 11. For Barcelona, who got stuck at 4 of 22 three-pointers, Pete Mickeal and Erazem Lorbek chipped in 15 points apiece.
Milovan Rakovic opened the score for the hosts but soon Boni N'Dong matched it with two free throws to make it 2-2. N'Dong and Rimas Kaukenas were the
referens in offense for both teams but when Bo McCalebb appeared on stage, Montepaschi was already leading 9-4. Pete Mickeal and McCalebb didn't let the game
pace go down at any rate as the former hit his fourth straight point for the 11-8. The shot selection of Montepaschi was superb with no misses at this point,
and McCalebb blasted his sixth point to make it a 7-point game, 15-8. With Roger Grimau and Victor Sada on court, Regal FC Barcelona turned to the blue
collar players to try to change the fate of the game. McCalebb however, continued his one-man party until he missed from the free throw line with a 19-10
score for the hosts. Mickeal knew that his help would be needed to solve this situation and appeared again with a new bucket, but Rakovic's new three-point
play made it a double-digit difference game, 22-12. At this point, newcomer Joe Ingles made his Euroleague debut with Barcelona as Ricky Rubio scored two
free throws to stop the bleeding. Ingles soon stole the ball and slammed it and then blasted a bomb from downtown to set things straight: 24-21 after a 0-7
Barca run. Erazem Lorbek also had time for his long jumper to close the first quarter with a 26-23 Siena run after the guests' fast recovery in the last two
Ksistof Lavrinovic got Siena going from the line with both attempts in. Barcelona never panicked and tried to impose its rhythm with fine Rubio assists in
the lane for easy basket situations. Kaukenas drove aggressively towards the basket as Montepaschi was still maintaining high percentages from the field, but
Lorbek pulled up for the three to trim the deficit down to one single point, 30-29, and soon Mickeal lifted a layup to put Barca finally ahead for the first
time, 30-31. Both teams exchanged baskets now with McCalebb appearing after a while with his three, and Rakovic also hit his soft touch to force a new Barca
timeout after making it 37-33. Kosta Perovic's high tip-in kept the guests in the momentum but Siena was still shooting at a 70%, not to mention the lack of
misses from downtown, and McCalebb took his own offensive board to make it 41-37 entering the last minute of the half. Jaka Lakovic blasted a long three but
the last say was for Siena as Rakovic had his 11th point to close the first half, 43-40.
Lorbek and Rakovic traded baskets to start the third period for both teams, and David Moss stepped in to hit the first two free throws of the second half for
47-43. It was clear that the halftime break had not affected McCalebb in the least as he was still the biggest offensive threat of the hosts and Lavrinovic
soon joined in for a three that made it 54-45 to cap the 9-2 Siena run. Rubio stopped it with free throws but Barcelona was struggling in defense against the
nifty ball circulation of the hosts as the Lithuanian connection formed by Kaukenas and Lavrinovic found a basket that brought the crowd on its feet for the
56-47. The quarter entered the last three minutes with Nikos Zisis driving to the rim to make it a 9-point game again, while in defense, Montepaschi was
forcing constant Barcelona turnovers, 9 at that point. When Pietro Aradori scored his first points from the line, it was a double-digit game all over again,
64-53, but Sada copied him to put the 64-55 after 30 minutes.
Zisis had another layup for Siena to start the last quarter marking the likely fate of the game if things didn't change for good. Marco Carraretto soon
joined him to make it 68-55 forcing a crucial Barcelona timeout. The lack of defensive rebound at this point hurt Barca as Carraretto used the second chance
to increase the lead. When Rubio missed an open three for the guests for the 3 of 17 from downtown it was clear that was not the way to go for Barca.
Carraretto was the X-Factor for Siena now, and not even Barcelona's zone defense could stop him. When McCalebb stole the ball from Sada's hands and ran
towards the basket at the speed of sound for the layup, the fate of the game was sealed. With four minutes to go, Montepaschi was leading 74-59. Juan Carlos
Navarro's abscence proved to be too much of a handicap for the defending champs, who never stopped fighting however. Lakovic stepped up for four straight
points to trim the deficit down to 74-66 entering the last minute, but the hosts only managed the situation to wait for the final buzzer and a valuable win.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010