Montepaschi hosts Alba Berlin
Montepaschi made its first-ever ULEB Cup appearance a victory, as it overcame Alba Berlin 79-63 in the ULEB Cup opening game in Siena, Italy, on Monday night. The game marked the start of the fourth edition of the competition and Montepaschi showed its credentials as a top candidate to lift the trophy at the Spiroudome in Charleroi, Belgium, at the end of the season, improving to 1-0 in the Group C standings. Terrell McIntyre led the winners with 16 points and 5 assists. Joseph Forte added 12 points, Lonny Baxter had 11 on 4-for-4 shooting, while Ben Eze grabbed 13 rebounds for the hosts. Will Avery had 20 points for Alba Berlin, Julius Jenkins added 14 and Chris Owens registered the first double-double of the ULEB Cup season with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Avery shined in the second quarter and Jenkins had 4 points during an 0-8 run, which saw the guests take a 30-38 lead at halftime. Montepaschi found its go-to guys in Vladimer Boisa and McIntyre after the break, as both players combined for 16 points in the third period to make it 58-48 for Montepaschi after 30 minutes. The hosts boosted their lead to 74-58 midway through the final period and cruised to a well-deserved home win.
Shaun Stonerook scored the first points of the 2006-07 ULEB Cup with a second-chance layup, while Eze added a turnaround shot for a 4-0 Montepaschi lead. Alba needed more than two minutes to get on the scoreboard, with Owens sinking a free throw. Points came the hard way early, as Alba missed its first 9 field goal attempts until Owens scored from downtown. Montepaschi also struggled to score, but free throws by Eze and Rimantas Kaukenas gave the hosts an 8-4 edge midway through the first quarter. Owens kept pacing Alba with a power layup and Demond Greene buried a triple during a 1-6 spurt, which Avery capped with free throws to give the guests their first lead, 9-11. Boisa added a free throw, but Koko Archibong beat the buzzer with a long jumper to give Alba a 10-14 edge after 10 minutes.
Berlin's Nenad Canak opened the second quarter with a three-pointer. Romain Sato answered with a turnaround jumper, igniting a 7-0 run, which McIntyre capped with a triple, good for a 17-16 Siena edge. Julius Jenkins answered from downtown, but Sato scored inside to tie it at 19-19. Owens and Eze exchanged layups before Avery hit a triple to keep Alba ahead, 21-24. Baxter came off the bench and immediately made a pair of free throws, grabbed a coupld of rebounds and scored again to restore Montepaschi's lead at 26-24. Avery took over with a triple and a wild three-point play, but McIntyre and Stonerook helped Siena to tie it again at 30-30. Alba was not done, as a fast break layup by Johanned Herber ignited a 0-8 run, which Jenkins capped with consecutive baskets to put the guests ahead, 30-38, at halftime.
Boisa ignited the Montepaschi comeback effort with a six-meter jumper, which McIntyre followed with free throws to cut the deficit to 4. Alba faced severe foul trouble, as Archibong picked up his fourth foul right after the break. Sharrod Ford's dunk got Berlin on the board, but McIntyre answered from downtown to get Montepaschi within 37-40. Alba struggled against the hosts' zone defense, while Boisa followed a big basket with a corner triple, capping a 12-2 run and giving the hosts a 42-40 edge. Avery made free throws, but Montepaschi had gained the upper hand. Kaukenas scored in penetration, McIntyre buried a corner triple and Eze added 2 foul shots to make it 49-42. Joseph Forte joined the three-point festival, forcing Alba to call timeout at 52-44. Jenkins's baseline jumper was answered by McIntyre's fourth triple before Avery matched that on the other end. Even with that, Forte hit a tough jumper for a 58-49 Montepaschi lead after three quarters.
Sato got Montepaschi going with a turnaround jumper, as Alba tried a 1-2-2 press zone. Eze dunked it in transition to break the game for good, 62-49, with eight minutes to go. Owens tried to change things with a put-back layup, igniting a 0-6 run, which Jenkins capped with a jumper to give Alba some hope at 62-55, but Forte hit his second triple and McIntyre added a running layup to give the hosts a 67-55 lead midway through the final period. Stonerook nailed a corner triple while Baxter shined with a layup-plus-foul, which allowed Montepaschi to stay out of trouble in the final three minutes.
Monday, October 30, 2006