Montepaschi topped Lukoil Academic Sofia 77-63 to take sole possession of first place in Group C on Tuesday night in Siena, Italy. Lonny Baxter had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Montepaschi, which improved to 3-1. Lukoil dropped to 2-2, joining Alba Berlin, Khimki and Telindus Oostende in a four-way tie for second. Romain Sato scored 11 during a 13-0 third-quarter run as Montepaschi took control of the game and Lukoil never got closer than 7 the rest of the way. Sato finished with 14, Rimantas Kaukenas had 13 and 4 steals and Joseph Forte tallied 11 and 5 assists. Lamont Jones led Lukoil with 17, Todor Stoykov and Riste Stefanov added 13 each, Taliek Brown 11 and Gjorgji Cekovski grabbed 13 rebounds.
Montepaschi started strong behind a Shaun Stonerook triple and Baxter, who ruled the paint, as the hosts took a 7-3 lead. Lukoil stormed back with a pair of scores from Stoykov and a Stefanov triple that made it 11-10. Lukoil's backcourt was very active and the Stoykov/Stefanov duo carried the visitors to 15-18. The Bulgarian champs increased the advantage to 6 when Brown scored a three-point play, but Forte had the last word in the first quarter, sinking a triple to make it 18-21. Terrell McIntyre came into the game with a precious steal, which opened the way for a impressive dunk by Stonerook. Then Benjamin Eze swatted a shot and added a basket-plus-foul on the other end to put the hosts back on top. Kaukenas fueled an 11-0 run with a three-point shot, but Jones helped Lukoil remain in the picture His tough play included attacking the paint before a layup from Georgi Davidov closed the second quarter at 35-31.
After some missed shots, Sato got going with a jumper, then Eze stole a ball at mid-court and threw down a terrible double-handed dunk to take a 39-32 lead. Sato was really on fire and he added 9 points in a row, giving to the hosts a 50-35 advantage. Lukoil tried not to give up and Cekovski fired from downtown, but the visitors suffered near the rim from the play of unstoppable Baxter, who kept the advantage in double figures. Montepaschi’s big men took important offensive rebounds, which allowed the 57-43 corner triple by Kaukenas at the end of the third quarter. Sofia came back with a zone defense and Brown drilled the layup. Otherwise Montepaschi found the way to be efficient with the 3-2 too and in a while rolled over on the 66-48 raining from downtown with Kaukenas and Forte. It’s the topical break which allowed Siena a new home win.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006