Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem outlasted Montepaschi Siena 85-80 in a topsy-turvy encounter on Tuesday in the Israeli capital to improve to 1-1 in Group C. Reserve Guy Pnini buried a clutch three-pointer with 51 seconds left and Ed Cota sealed the win with a pair of free throws in the closing seconds for Hapoel. Montepaschi's Terrell McIntyre had a chance to tie the game after a Hapoel turnover in the last half-minute, but his shot bounced out as Siena dropped to 1-1. A big second quarter from Vladimer Boisa helped Montepaschi to a 36-38 halftime lead, which grew to 39-48 early in the third period. But a Matan Naor 4-point play helped break the momentum and Jerusalem clawed its way back, eventually going up 66-61 after 30 minutes. A McIntyre three tied it at 74-74, and the teams then traded baskets until Pnini stepped up with his first ever ULEB Cup points to push Hapoel past Montepaschi. Mario Austin led Hapoel with 18 points and 11 rebounds, Timmy Bowers added 14 points and 7 boards and Jurica Golemac chipped in 11. Boisa and Joseph Forte had 17 apiece for Montepaschi, McIntyre 13 and Romain Sato 10.
Sato put the visitors on the board first after two scoreless minutes, and it took Hapoel one more minute to score with the point coming on a Cota triple. Both teams continued struggling to find the rim. Sato missed an open lay up, Erez Markovic missed a close shot and after 6:30 minutes Hapoel was still up only 5-4. The sloppy game continued on both ends until Tamar Slay dunked on the break to put Hapoel on top 12-9. Boisa's three tied the game at one end, but Bowers answered at the other and finished the quarter with a great drive to the rim, making it 18-14. Austin heated up and forced Monepaschi to call its first time out, trailing 22-19. Boisa again tied the score, this time from the line, 23-23, but Austin connected on a tough shot with the bonus from the line to keep Hapoel on top. When Markovic added a close-range shot, Montepaschi called another timeout, down by 5 points. Offensive rebounds kept the visitors in the game and Boisa scored 5 points in a row force Hapoel to take a timeout at 30-28. Bowers and Markovic pushed Hapoel to a two-possession lead, but McIntyre hit an open three pointer, and with less than a minute to play Boisa used the same weapon to tie the game. He added two more from the line to give Montepaschi a 2-point lead at the end of the first half, 36-38.
Shaun Stonerook opened the second half with a three-pointer that bounced on the rim before going in, and one minute later he added a tough shot in the paint with a bonus from the line, to make it 39-48. Golemac kept Hapoel alive and Naor gave the fans something to sing about with a three pointer and the extra point from the line, bringing the team within 3. Naor added a big block at the other end and forced Montepaschi to take a timeout. Hapoel came back with an alley-oop play from Cota to Austin to cap an 8-0 run. Ben Eze broke Siena's scoring drought, but Hapoel wasn't about to stop. Slay finished a fast break and a technical foul on the visitors' bench helped Hapoel take the lead back for the first time in the second half, after Austin hit a turn-around jumper to make it 55-53. Austin's three pointer from the corner ended the third period with the reds ahead 66-61. Golemac made it a 5-point game with the first bucket of the last quarter, but immediately fouled out while fighting for an offensive rebound. Bowers and Forte exchanged baskets as the game remained close. Naor, whose hustle and defense were big parts of the Jerusalem comeback, fouled out as well, but Bowers made a big block on Boisa and kept Hapoel's lead alive. Meir Tapiro returned from a lengthy stay on the bench with 4 points to make it 74-69. McIntyre tied he game with an open three-pointer, but Bowers made it 76-74 with less than two minutes to play, before Slay fouled out as well. Sato tied the game from the line and then Tapiro hit another two. Cota stole the ball and with 52.1 seconds to go, Tapiro fed Pnini for a big-time three-pointer that made it 81-76 and forced Montepaschi to take a timeout. Forte almost lost the ball but hit a key fade-away jumper to keep the visitors' hopes alive. Tapiro turned the ball over and gave Montepaschi one last chance but McIntyre missed the open three-pointer and Tapiro and Cota sealed the win from the line, 85-80.