Efes Pilsen downed Montepaschi 88-78
Efes Pilsen registered its first win in Top 16 Group F by downing Montepaschi Siena 88-78 in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday night. Both teams are now tied in Group F each with a 1-1 record. Mario Kasun paced the winners with 17 points on 7-of-8 two-pointers and 9 rebounds. Kaya Peker added 13 while Charles Smith had 11 for Efes, that outrebounded Montepaschi with 42-34. Romain Sato led Montepaschi with 19 points and 10 rebounds. David Hawkins and Terrell McIntyre each added 12 points while Shaun Stonerook had 11 for the guests. Smith and Peker shined early to give Efes a double-digit lead, 20-9, early in the first quarter. Kasun took over in the second quarter with 9 points in this period and got some help from Igor Rakocevic to keep Efes way ahead, 45-34, at halftime. Smith and an unstoppable Kasun allowed Efes to break the game open, 59-40. Henry Domercant tried to change things for Montepaschi but the hosts kept a 67-52 margin after 30 minutes. Nothing changed in the fourth quarter, as Efes stayed focused and Montepaschi only rallied once the outcome was clear.
Coach Ergin Ataman opted to place center Ermal Kuqo in Efes' starting lineup for the first time in this Euroleague season. Peker got Efes going with a second-chance jump hook and soon added a backdoor layup for a 4-0 lead. Montepaschi went scoreless for more than 2 minutes and Bootsy Thornton capped a 6-0 run with a driving layup. Sato stepped up with a tip-in but a red hot Peker scored down low to make the guests call timeout at 8-2. Sato followed a three-point play with free throws but Smith struck from downtown and Kuqo added a layup to keep Efes way ahead, 13-7. Kerem Tunceri kept stopping McIntyre and Montepaschi lacked ball circulation. Benjamin Eze shined with a baseline jumper but Smith bettered it with a seven-meter bomb and Peker set the crowd on fire with a power layup. Thornton took over with a fast break layup to make it a double-digit game, 20-9. Sato kept pacing Montepaschi with more foul shots and Tomas Ress added a triple to bring the guests back to life, 20-14. Kasun and McIntyre traded layups while free throws by Rakocevic, Domercant and Bostjan Nachbar fixed the score at 27-17 after 10 minutes.
Rakocevic scored in transition early in the second quarter that a up-and-under layup by Ksistof Lavrinovic kept Montepaschi within 29-19. The guests tried to improved its defense with Marco Carrareto and Hawkins at both wings. Kasun took over with a huge dunk in traffic that Zisis erased with a driving layup. Montepaschi had started to lock the defensive board and Sato struck from downtown to silence the crowd at 31-24. Rakocevic made more free throws and Kasun stayed on fire with a fast break dunk, as Montepaschi struggled at both ends now. Preston Shumpert sank free throws and fed Kasun for an alleyoop layup, good for a 39-26 Efes margin. Hawkins stepped up with a layup-plus-foul, as Efes opted to open the court with Shumper at power forward. Kasun - who else? - dunked it again that Shaun Stonerook erased with a backdoor layup. Efes kept excelling in defense, closing all passing lines, but the hosts could not get Daniel Santiago involved. Smith fed Shumpert for an open three-pointer but Stonerook answered from downtown to bring the guests within 45-34 at halftime.
Kasun made free throws immediately after the break, as Montepaschi could not find its scoring rhythm. Kasun provided a highlight with a reverse dunk to make it a 15-point game, 49-34. Montepaschi had been scoreless for almost 3 minutes until Hawkins sank a baseline jumper. Kerem Tunceri quickly answered from downtown but a three-pointer by McIntyre got the guests within 52-39. Smith took over with an acrobatic jumper - and the free throw that came with it and Peker added a put-back layup to break the game open at 57-39. Smith sent the crowd to their feet with a fast break dunk but a triple by Domercant got Montepaschi within 59-43. Efes had opted to slow down the game tempo to run the game clock down and coach Ataman called timeout to adjust his team's offense. Stonerook fed Sato for a wide open three-pointer and soon added a layup, as Efes kept struggling to score. A fast break layup by Domercant gave the guests some hope at 61-50. Bojan Popovic and Kuqo rescued Efes with free throws and a layup by Nachbar boosted the hosts' lead to 67-50. Free throws by Zisis brought Montepaschi within 67-52 after 30 minutes.
Montepaschi needed a quick comeback to return to the game early in the fourth quarter but Kuqo scored down low to make it a 17-point game, 69-52. Lavrinovic struck from downtown but he didn't find much help around. Shumpert stepped up with a tip-in while a corner three-pointer by Nachbar sealed the outcome, 74-56. Montepaschi could not find the way to the basket and Shumpert banked in a close shot to make the guests call timeout at 76-56. Popovic took over with a reverse layup, as both teams fought already for points differential to be in the best position if a multiple-way tie takes place at the end of this phase. Hawkins made 4-of-4 free throws, as Efes kept trying to run the game clock down. Everything was said and done already, as all Efes fans were already celebrating a big home win. Meanwhile, Montepaschi needs to bounce back right away and get ready for a big showdown against Real Madrid.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010