With its Euroleague season on the line in the last game of the regular season, Scavolini Pesaro roared into the Top 16 on Thursday with a sure 83-69 victory over visiting Montepaschi Siena in Group B. After finishing tied for fourth place in Group B at 7-7 with Montepaschi and AEK, Scavolini fell all the way to sixth when tie-breakers between them were applied. But the seventh victory proved crucial as Scavolini would have been eliminated altogether - and Unicaja of Group C would have reached the Top 16 instead - had Montepaschi won. Scavoloni's big night came with a hero, Euroleague top scorer Charles Smith, who returned from a two-week injury to lead the winners with 20 points, including 4-for-8 three-point shooting. Scoonie Penn added 17 points, while inside aces for the winners were Robert Archibald with 19 points and Tomas Ress with 11. For Montepaschi, Vrbica Stefanov was the highest scorer with 19 points, while David Vanterpool added 14. Montepaschi, which finished in fifth place, lost starter Bootsy Thornton to injury early in the second half.
Robert Archibald got Scavolini off to the right start, going inside to score 7 points in a row for the hosts and force 2 fouls on Montepaschi center Roberto Chiacig in 3 minutes. With Scavolini ahead 9-2, Benjamin Eze replaced Chiacig and brought intimidation to the Montepaschi defense. The visitors' offense got going in the backcourt as Carlton Myers and Bootsy Thornton sparked a 2-7 run to pull the Montepaschi within 11-9. After Alessandro Frosini and Penn scored two-pointers for Scavolini, Smith returned after 18 days out with an ankle injury and sank his first triple for the highest lead yet, 20-9. After a timeout, Montepaschi showed the right intensity to mount a 0-7 run, but Smith and Mottola scored jumpers to bring Scavolini to the first-quarter buzzer ahead by 25-19.
Vanterpool opened the second quarter with a drive and a steal to motivate Montepaschi, but even when he hit a triple, Archibald had already put up 5 new points to keep Scavolini in front, 30-26. Scavolini then found fastbreak dunks with Smith and Marko Milic. And Tomas Ress made it three in a row with a put-back on a fastbreak that pushed the hosts ahead by 8 points, 36-28, midway through the quarter. Smith with free throws and Penn with a drive pushed the lead into double digits at 41-30. Vrbica Stefanov's triple for Montepaschi was answered by a one from Smith and Scavolini reached a high lead of 13 points, 46-33, on a jumper by Ress. Only a three-pointer by Thornton got Montepaschi within 46-36 at the break.
Montepaschi started the second half well, too. Chiacig scored first and the visitors' defense forced Scavolini to go 2 minutes without a basket. But the guests didn't score much, either, and got a scare when Thornton suffered a right ankle injury in minute 23. Scavolini managed to keep a nine-point lead until Mikalis Kakiuozis scored from inside the lane. But Penn finished a fastbreak and Archibald nailed a hook to reestablish an 11-point lead, 53-42. The crowd carried Scavolini to a new highest lead of 60-46 on a triple by Teemu Rannikko. Scavolini exploited a Montepaschi turnover for another three-pointer, by Smith, who then seemed to devastate the guests by hitting his fourth shot from the arc on the buzzer for a 19-point lead by the hosts, 67-48, after 30 minutes.
Giacomo Galanda and Stefanov opened the final quarter with baskets for Montepaschi, but Smith's free throw soon re-estabilished a 15-point lead, 69-54. Scavolini now made the mistake of relaxing, and Montepaschi took advantage with a 0-7 run to within 69-58 on a triple by Stefanov. With considerable pressure on his shoulders, Matteo Malaventura sank a crucial three-pointer to restore a double-digit lead, 72-61, but Montepasch didn't give up, forcing Mottola's fifth foul before Eze brought his team within 72-64. Penn scored with a baseline jumper and Archibald stole and scored from inside the key to rebuild a 12-point edge, 76-64. When Penn sank a new triple and the Scavolini defense forced Montepaschi into a shot-clock violation, it was over. Ress dunked for a 17-point lead, 83-66, with 2 minutes left, which set the Pesar crowd to dancing with the expectation of Top 16 games in their future.
Thursday, February 10, 2005