Montepaschi stays undefeated in Group C by beating Partizan 66-59 to celebrate its home opening in Siena, Italy on Thursday. Montepaschi joins Real Madrid and Panathinaikos atop the group standings with a 2-0 record, while Partizan dropped to 0-2, the same as Ulker and CSKA. Duane Woodward led the winners with 15 points while Rimantas Kaukenas and Vladimer Boisa each had 11. Dejan Milojevic led Partizan with 14 points and 10 rebounds for yet another double-double, while Kosta Perovic had 12 points for the guests. It was a close game in the early going, but Woodward scored 5 points in a 9-2 run which gave Siena a 30-20 lead that the hosts controlled until the game's final 2 minutes. Then, Uros Tripkovic and Milojevic brought their team within 58-56, but Marcelo Nicola had a critical block while Kaukenas made 4 of 4 free throws to help Montepaschi prevail.
Montepaschi started the game with great defensive pressure on Partizan's backcourt. Meanwhile, Boisa shined on offense with a triple and a two-handed dunk, fueling a 9-4 opening run for the hosts. Partizan struggled to find its way to the basket, although Perovic made one sweet shot and was active in the paint, fighting for every rebound. Montepaschi moved into a higher gear with fastbreaks and found a go-to guy in Woodward, whose 5 unanswered points put his team up 14-4. The guests took their first open shot after 8 minutes, as Pedrag Suput fed Gerald Brown for a three and added a driving basket to bring Partizan within 15-9. Suput soon added a three-point play and Boris Bakic made a layup to bring Partizan within 17-14 after 10 minutes.
Low shooting percentages remained a direct consequence of the tough defenses. Montepaschi focused on Milojevic but Partizan's star found a way to help, feeding Luka Bogdanovic for a layup that made it 21-18. Woodward and Shaun Stonerook scored in one-on-one situations to keep Montepaschi in charge, 25-20. Partizan struggled to score for 3 minutes, while Woodward fired in his second three-pointers and Mindaugas Zukauskas made free throws to give Montepaschi a double-digit lead, 30-20. Partizan soon got back in track, as Suput beat the hosts' defense with a layup while Tripkovic made his presence felt by sinking a three and then feeding Nikola Pekovic for a big dunk. Nicola didn't miss his third attempt from downtown before a free throw by Tripkovic cut Montepaschi's edge to 36-30 at halftime.
Both teams struggledearly in the third quarter, missing open three-pointers, but a layup by Boisa made it 40-33 Montepaschi after 24 minutes. Driving to the rim seemed the only way to score, so Boisa and Woodward did it, while Milojevic kept Partizan within striking distance, at 44-37. Now, Montepaschi improved its ball movement and shot selection. Boisa made a mid-range jumper, Woodward copied him and by the time Kaukenas nailed his trademark stop-and-pop three-pointers, the Montepaschi lead was back to double digits, 47-37. It didn't stay there, however, as Partizan found help in Pekovic, who followed free throws with a dunk to fix a 47-41 scoreboard after 30 minutes..
Partizan players Gerald Brown and Nikola Loncar suddenly caught fire with a turnaround shot and a driving layup, respectively, bringing the guests within 49-45 and forcing a Montepaschi timeout early in the final quarter. Stonerook got the hosts on track again with a steal and a basket-plus-foul, then fed Nicola for a three-pointer to made it 57-47. But Partizan refused to quit as Tripkovic made an elegant stop-and-pop jumper for 58-52 with 3 minutes to go. Milojevic stepped forward now with 4 quick points to bring Partizan even closer, 58-56. When he tried to tie, however, Nicola made an amazing block leading to 2 free throws by Kaukenas. Nicola would make 2 more, and even though Milojevic tried to keep Partizan alive with a three-point play, Stonerook grabbed a key offensive and dunked at the buzzer to seal his team's win in style.
Thursday, November 10, 2005