A scoring explosion in the closing minutes let Montepaschi Siena retain exclusive hold on second place in Group A with a come-from-behind 80-86 victory over Union Olimpija in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Montepaschi raised its record to 6-2,w hile Olimpija dropped to 3-5. Late-game heroics were supplied again by point guard Terrell McIntyre, who hit 4 three-pointers in the last 5 minutes, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. Montepaschi had trailed by 7 points earlier in the quarter, until McIntyre started bombing away. Rimantas Kaukenas led the winners with 21 points, while Bootsy Thornton added 13, Romain Sato and Kysystof Lavrinovic 10 each. Olimpija, which had led much of both halves, got 22 points from Goran Dragic, 21 from Marko Milic and 12 from Jasmin Hukic. Olimpija su
Olimpija spread the floor and attacked the basket well to start as Hasan Rizvic and Milic scored in the paint early and Hukic boomed a triple for a quick 9-5 lead. Montepaschi took pains to find decent shots, but Sato's free throws got them as close as 8-7 before Olimpija broke out again. Rizvic started a 10-2 run and Dragic ended it with a fastbreak layup-plus-free throw for an 18-9 home advantage. Montepaschi hit back just as hard, however, getting to the foul line until Thornton fueled a quick comeback. He hit a deep two-point jumper, free throws and a layup cutting to the basket that seized Montepaschi's first lead at 20-21. Hukic had the last word of the quarter, however, making his own basket cut to preserve a 22-21 edge for Olimpija after 10 minutes.
The lead went back and forth to start the second quarter as Lavrinovic scored inside for Montepaschi, before Hukic and Tomas Ress traded triples. When Thornton dialed up the next long-distance shot, however, Montepaschi had its first lead of more than a point, 25-29. Lavrinovic added a baby hook at 26-31, while Olimpija only managed to shoot free throws. Ronell Taylor swooped in for a layup, but Lavrinovic hooked again at the other end. Hukic came out of an Olimpija timeout and drilled a triple, and even though Sato stuck his own to make it 32-36, Sasa Doncic put back an offensive rebound for the hosts. Now, Montepaschi wanted a timeout. A mad scramble for points proved fruitless until Dragic made a fastbreak layup over three defenders and Rizvic hit from the baseline on the buzzer to restore Olimpija's lead, 39-36 at halftime.
Quiet until then, McIntyre opened the second half by tying the score 39-39 on a single shot from the top of the arc. Kaukenas then downed free throws and a stutter-step layup to push Montepaschi ahead. Milic dropped in a short shot and set up Rizvic to forge another tie, 43-43, while Dragic outraced the pack for a layup that put Olimpija back in front. Hukic's fine touch pass to Milic made it an 8-0 run and a 47-43 Olimpija lead, forcing a Montepaschi timeout. Hala Tivoli rocked as Miha Zupan and Milic raised the advantage to 51-43 before Sato's three-point play and more Kaukenas free throws calmed Montepaschi. When Sato hung in the air to hit another fastbreak layup, it was 51-50. McIntyre was next to hit a shot, from downtown, but Zupan matched him and Milic drove for a layup to make it 56-53. Intentional fouls by Sato and Stonerook on Milic let Olimpija boost the lead to 6 points before Vlado Ilievski scored untouched to cut the difference to 60-55 after 30 minutes.
Dragic crashed the rim for a basket to start the final quarter, but it was Olimpija's defense that starred now, denying Montepaschi any shot for almost 3 minutes until Lavrinovic hit free throws. Zupan answered for Olimpija, but so did Kaukenas, from the corner and the free-throw line, for Montepaschi, making it close enough for Thornton to tie 64-64 on a left-handed runner. Doncic traded 2 points first with Lavrinovic and then with Kaukenas for a 68-68 tie going into the last 5 minutes. For the first time in 13 minutes, Montepaschi went up on McIntyre's next triple, and even when Dragic matched it, Olimpija found trouble stopping Montepaschi's end-of-game dynamo. McIntyre fired another from downtown and converted a steal into a 71-76 lead. Dragic drove to let Olimpija breathe, but yet another McIntyre triple made it 75-79. He wasn't done, either. His fourth triple in as many minutes made it 82-77 going into the last 60 seconds, and from there Montepaschi took care of business to hang onto second place in Group A.
Thursday, December 13, 2007