Caja Laboral marches into playoffs, KOs Siena
Caja Laboral Vitoria advanced to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs from Top 16 Group F by downing Montepaschi Siena 76-64 in a do-or-die battle on Thursday. Vitoria finished Group F in fourth place with an 8-5 record. It will face Group E champion CSKA Moscow in the upcoming playoffs. Montepaschi was sixth at 7-7 and now out of the competition. Maciej Lampe paced the winners with 27 points on 12-of-19 two-point shooting and 9 rebounds. Andres Nocioni and Fernando San Emeterio each scored 13 points for Vitoria. Nocioni added 13 rebounds for a double-double. Bobby Brown led Montepaschi with 24 points but none of his teammates scored in double digits. Montepaschi used a strong start to get a 4-8 lead. It didn't last long, however, as Nocioni and Lampe fueled a 19-3 run which gave Vitoria its first double-digit lead, 23-11, early in the second quarter. An outstanding Lampe soon made it a 16-point game, but Brown and Eze brought Montepaschi within 39-27 at halftime. Nothing changed after the break, as a wild triple by San Emeterio gave Vitoria a 57-42 lead after 30 minutes, which the hosts extended to 69-45 to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer.
First quarter: Nocioni takes over as Vitoria grabs lead
Benjamin Eze got Montepaschi going with a two-handed dunk and an off-balance jumper by Bobby Brown gave the guests a 0-4 lead. Omar Cook stepped up with a six-meter jumper, which David Moss matched at the other end. A free throw by Kristjan Kangur soon caused the Vitoria fans to start to wonder at 2-7. The hosts kept struggled to score until a huge block by Nocioni sent Lampe to dunk at the other end. Eze split free throws off a timeout and Lampe scored down low to bring Vitoria a bit closer, 6-8. Lampe kept pacing Vitoria with a layup-plus-foul, which gave the hosts their first lead, 9-8. Brown took over with his own three-point play, which Nocioni erased with a triple. Montepaschi started to miss open shots and could not get Brown involved. Nocioni insisted from downtown to ignite the crowd, 15-11, at the end of a very intense first quarter.
Second quarter: Lampe leads Laboral to big margin
Lampe finished a five-chance Vitoria offense with a put-back layup and a fast break slam by Nemanja Bjelica soon caused the guests to call timeout at 19-11. Nemanja Bjelica scored in penetration and a two-handed dunk by Lampe broke the game open, 23-11, after an 11-0 run. Marco Carraretto tried to change things with a layup and a dunk by Viktor Sanikidze gave Montepaschi some hope at 23-15. Sanikidze scored again to cap a 0-6 run and force Coach Zan Tabak to call timeout at 23-17. Nocioni stepped up with another three-pointer and a stop-and-pop jumper by Fernando San Emeterio restored a double-digit Vitoria margin, 28-17. San Emeterio struck from downtown and Lampe added a jump hook that made it a 16-point game. Brown nailed a triple; Lampe scored in the paint. A jump hook by Eze kept Montepaschi within 35-22. San Emeterio scored in penetration before Matt Janning and Fabien Causeur traded layups. A buzzing-beater triple by Brown fixed the halftime score at 39-27.
Third quarter: Siena tries, but hosts remain far ahead
Daniel Hackett downed a corner three-pointer immediately after the break to bring Montepaschi within single digits, 39-30. Lampe stepped up with a huge slam which he followed with free throws for a 43-30 Vitoria lead. Lampe scored again, as Montepaschi kept missing open shots from beyond the arc. An unstoppable Lampe sank a jump hook and a jumper by Nocioni forced the guests to stop the game at 49-30, after a 10-0 run. Eze tried to ignite his team's comeback with a baseline jumper, which Tibor Pleiss erased with free throws. Moss shined with a corner three-pointer, but didn't find much help around. Vitoria, however, struggled to score without Lampe on the floor. Brown made foul shots that Cook improved on with a bomb from downtown. Sanikidze joined the three-point shootout and a floating layup by Brown gave Montepaschi some hope at 54-42. A wild buzzer-beating triple by San Emeterio ignited the crowd, 57-42, through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Hosts seal win early, start to celebrate
An unstoppable San Emeterio scored again early in the fourth quarter and an acrobatic fast break layup by Thomas Heurtel made it a 19-point game. Montepaschi kept struggling to score when it mattered most. Meanwhile, a free throw by Pleiss and a three-pointer by Causeur sealed the outcome, 65-42, with over seven minutes to go. Hackett struck from downtown, but a put-back basket by Causeur and an alley-oop layup by Lampe boosted the hosts' lead to 69-45. Vitoria kept an eye on other courts, as wins by Khimki and Maccabi could leave the hosts out of the playoffs. Brown followed free throws with a three-pointer and a dunk by Benjamin Ortner brought Montepaschi within 69-52. A three-pointer by Janning capped a 0-10 Montepaschi run, as Lampe stepped up with a slam. Brown scored off a steal and a seven-meter bomb by Janning made it 71-60 with over two minutes left. Brown nailed a jumper but it proved to be too little, too late for the guests, as Vitoria cruised to a big win which sent it to the playoffs!
Thursday, April 4, 2013