Montepaschi Siena triumphed in the third-place game against CSKA Moscow, 79-78 on Sunday, after a thrilling 40-minute battle that ended in dramatic fashion. All-Euroleague guard Alphonso Ford grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed foul shot with 17 seconds left and put it back in between the big guys to seal the victory. Ford and Vrbica Stefanov scored 17 points, 4 of his in the final 3 minutes, to lead the victory. Top 16 MVP Mirsad Turkcan scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and doubled up with a floor-high 14 rebounds. On the CSKA side, Darius Songaila scored 15 poiints, half of these in the first half. Victor Alexander and Nikos Hatzivrettas, who missed the free throw that might have forced overtime, tallied 14 apiece and Sergei Monya added 10 others for CSKA.
The teams started playing the third- place game with the whole lot of intensity, to the point that both teams were pressing full-court after free throws from the start. The score was tied four times in the first 5 minutes, then Montepaschi made an 8-0 run to take a 15-10 led on a layup from center Roberto Chiacig, assisted by Mirsad Turkcan. CSKA, after being forced to call a timeout, answered with 2 straight three-pointers by J.R. Holden and a layup by Victor Alexander to lead 17-18. Both teams were loose and it showed with very accurate shooting from all over the floor. As such, the lead changed hands 4 more times before the end of the quarter, the last as forward Darius Songaila hit a mid-range jumper at the buzzer, to give CSKA a 26-27 advantage.
Beginning the second quarter, both teams kept up their amazing scoring performances. Montepaschi would end the first half with 57 percent on field goalas and CSKA with 62 percent. Scoring machine Nikos Hatzivrettas nailed 5 consecutive points to give CSKA a 40-42 led. Mikalis Kakiouzis tied it up with a layup, then Sergei Monya popped off the bench to drill a three-pointer and an easy short jumper on the break to put CSKA's biggest led yet, 42-47, on the scoreboard. Montepaschi was on fire in the final minute, however, and after Turkcan tapped in the ball, Kakiouzis with two seconds to go sank a triple from the corner to give 52-51 at the break. Five players were already in double-digits of scoring, led by Songaila with 15 points, while Ford had 13.
Siena was back in the third quarter with the small lineup switching on all picks of CSKA. Montepaschi took an early 56-51 lead with Turkcan's basket, but Alexei Savrasenko tied it again with a short jumper on 56-56. Now the defenses were tougher and finding an open shot more difficult for everybody, and CSKA reached its first advantage in this period on a long-distance shot hit by Monya, 60-61 with 2:30 left on the clock. Accuracy from the foul line, 6 for 6 during this period, gave Montepaschi another slim 65-63 lead with just 10 minutes to go.
Big Vic scored a layup assisted by Holden to gave to CSKA a 67-69 lead early in the last period but Turkcan answered with a three. Theodoros Papaloukas scored in the paint, challenging the big men, to put CSKA up 70-71. The drama was apparent in every play. Victor Khryapa blocked Turkcan and in the ensuing open-court play Alexander Bashminov hit a terrific dunk for 74-75 on the scoreboard. With 2:45 left Montepaschi aligned the zone defense. CSKA didn't score in the first three plays. Roberto Chiacig missed 3 of his 4 free throws, but Ford grabbed an incredible offensive rebound and put it back with 17 seconds left put Montepaschi up 79-77. Ford fouled Hatzivreatts with 2.8 seconds to go, he made the first shot, but missed the second, sending the thousands of Montepaschi fans into delirium for an incredible debut season in the Euroleague.
Sunday, May 11, 2003