Montepaschi Siena sent a message that echoed all around Group B by beating Winterthur FCB 58-70 on the road in Barcelona on Thursday to reach the Top 16. Although many possibilities still exist in Group B, all potential future ties include Montepaschi finishing in the first five places. Winterthur might not need to win again to advance, but still is not mathematically qualified. Montepaschi also enjoys tiebreak advantages for having beaten Barcelona twice. David Vanterpool led the winners with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Benjamin Eze added 11 points and Michalis Kakiouzis 10 for Montepaschi, which limited Barcelona to 18-for-55 shooting. Dejan Bodiroga led Barcelona with a double-double, 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Gregor Fucka also had 16 for the hosts. Vanterpool had 11 points in the game-breaking third quarter, while Vrbica Stefanov shined in the final period, keeping Montepaschi in control until the final buzzer.
Montepaschi started by grabbing offensive rebounds that lead to free throws by Stefanov and an open three-pointer for Kakiouzis that established a 0-5 lead. Barcelona committed turnovers early until Devin Davis and Fucka finally scored. Montepaschi now struggled for points, while Bodiroga stepped up with a fastbreak layup for a 6-5 Barcelona lead. Montepaschi missed as many as 8 consecutive shots until Eze dunked, but the guests faced trouble as Bootsy Thornton went to the bench with 3 fouls. Bodiroga followed free throws with a great basket in penetration, while Juan Carlos Navarro capped a 12-2 Barcelona run with an uncontested layup for a 12-7 lead. After a Montepaschi timeout, Vanterpool fed Eze for a three-point play and Carlton Myers added a corner triple to bring the guests within 14-13, but Fucka's free throws kept Barcelona ahead 16-13 after 10 minutes.
Again to start the second quarter, Barcelona went scoreless for 3 minutes while one of its former players, Efthimios Rentzias, drilled a five-meter jumper that helped put Montepaschi back in frong, 16-17. After Bodiroga and Vanterpool exchange layups, Roger Grimau's free throws gave Barcelona the lead back at 20-19. A motivated Rentzias made a put-back dunk, forcing a Barcelona timeout. The hosts improved their defense then and Fucka free throws reclaimed the lead, 22-21. The scoring pace slowed until Myers found a basket-plus-free throw and Mindaugas Zukauskas followed him with a bomb from downtown. Vanterpool then took over, turning a tough jumper into a three-point play and capping a 2-11 run with free throws for Montepaschi's biggest lead yet, 24-32, at halftime. Montepaschi only allowed 2 points in the final 5 minutes before halftime and limited Barcelona to 6-for-25 shooting on the half.
Vlado Ilievski open fire in the third quarter with a basket and fastbreak layup to make it 28-32. Montepaschi did not score until Roberto Chiacig dunked, but Vanterpool added a power basket to keep Montepaschi out of trouble at 28-36. Free throws by Bodiroga and another quick basket by Ilievski put Barcelona back on track, but Montepaschi did not lose control. Vanterpool scored in penetration and fed Kakiouzis for an open three-pointer and a 33-41 margin after 26 minutes. Fucka's four-meter jumper and Navarro's off-balance three-point play might have lifted Barcelona closer if its defense could have found a way to stop Vanterpool. Instead, he scored once inside and added a basket-plus-foul for a double-digit Montepaschi lead of 38-48. A three-pointer by a Rodrigo De La Fuente brought Barcelona within 41-50 after 30 minutes.
Eze scored a layup and a follow-up basket for a 12-point Montepaschi lead, 42-54, early in the last quarter. The guests used long possessions and good shot selection, including a Stefanov layup to beat the shot clock to keep a 46-58 margin with 7 minutes to go. Davis tried to start a Barcelona comeback, but Kakiouzis fired in a long two-pointer while Eze intimidated everyone at the other end. A put-back basket by Fucka and a free throw by De la Fuente gave Barcelona some hope at 52-60 with 3 minutes to go, but Stefanov made Montepaschi control the rhythm and added a corner three after another 20-second offense. Thornton followed with a short jumper to seal the outcome at 52-65 as Montepaschi cruised to a well-deserved win.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
J.A. Casanova, Barcelona