Montepaschi Siena put one foot in the Top 16 already by overpowering Asseco Prokom 71-83 on Wednesday in Poland to stay first in Group B. Siena is now 5-1 and will be qualified for the Top 16 if the teams it was tied with going into the week, Panathinaikos and Regal FC Barcelona, win their games on Thursday. Prokom fell to 2-4 and remains in fourth place for the moment. All-Euroleague first team guard Terrell McIntyre paced Siena with 26 points, 15 of them on triples, and Rimantas Kaukenas came off the bench to contribute with 22 more for the Italian champs. Shaun Stonerook added 10 points, but most importantly, helped fellow big men Ksistof Lavrinovic and Benjamin Eze control the paint on the defensive end, forcing Prokom into 16 turnovers. That trio also combined for 23 rebounds. David Logan's aggressive style helped him score 15 points in the second half to lead Prokom with 20, while Daniel Ewing netted 15 points and Aleksej Nesovic 12, all of his on three-point shots in the second half. Next week Prokom goes to meet Nancy in France in an extremely important game for their fourth-place battle, while Siena will host Zalgiris Kaunas.
McIntyre hit the game's first basket from downtown for Siena while Benjamin Eze protected the paint with a block for the visitors. But soon enough, Adam Hrycaniuk hit a jumper and Ronnie Burrell dunked of a Ewing dish to put Prokom ahead, 4-3. Ewing and McIntyre pushed the ball for their teams in a run-and-gun exchange with lots of misses. That style seemed to fit Siena better, as McIntyre and Domercant converted steals into layups that put the Italian champs back in front. A timeout by Prokom head coach Tomas Pacesas didn't seem to help as Siena's defense kept haunting the hosts into turnovers leading to fastbreak opportunities. A Pat Burke free throw was all Prokom would score in more than 4 minutes until Ewing beat the buzzer to cut Montepaschi's advantage to 9-13 after 10 minutes.
Kaukenas hit a triple on the 24-second buzzer with Siena's first possession of the second quarter and then Domercant nailed another from the corner to expand the visitors' lead to 10 points, 91-19. Logan and Burrell combined for 5 points in response, but Siena's Eze dominated inside on both ends of the floor and Kaukenas kept beating his defender to either score or set up his big men. With his team behind 14-26, Pacesas took another timeout, after which Przemyslaw Zamojski and Ewing each hit three-pointers for Prokom. When Ewing dunked on a fast-break, it was 22-31 and Siena head coach Simone Pianigiani wanted a timeout. Morris Finley turned the momentum again with a triple for the visitors, Kaukenas earned a trip to the free throw line and McIntyre silenced the crowd with another shot from the arc. Even though Ewing and Logan answered with 6 straight points for Prokom, the Montepaschi lead held at 28-38 going to halftime.
Eze forced Burke into another tough shot to start the second half, but Prokom's center answered with a block on the other end. The hosts were making long shots again, with Logan and Zamojski combining for 8 points, but could not stop McIntyre and Domercant from doing better by nailing 3 of 3 from downtown for Montepaschi. Everyone seemed to be hitting, as Aleksej Nesovic added another triple for Prokom, and Kaukenas made a three-point play and a two-point basket to give Siena a 39-52 lead. Logan was in attack mode with acrobatic shots, but McIntyre hit his fourth triple of the night and split free throws to keep the hosts at a distance. Though Ewing would cut the lead to 10, Siena's big men kept harassing Prokom's slashers into turnovers and poor shots. Filip Dylewicz and Ewing fought hard for their points, before Kaukenas scored a three to finish the third quarter with Montepaschi still in command, 50-63.
Stonerook's tough three-point-play kept Montepaschi strong early in the final quarter. He and Lavrinovic overpowered Prokom's big men for offensive rebounds now, giving Kaukenas a chance for more points. Though it was 52-70 now, Prokom wouldn't surrender, but rather summoned a 1-8 run, before McIntyre found a wide-open Stonerook for a three from the corner. On the other end, Nesovic hit his third triple of the half and Logan made foul shots to bring the margin down to 9 points, 65-74, but McIntyre put it back to 11 with 2 minutes to go. The Polish crowd kept chanting for Prokom until another Stonerook three silenced them for good and Montepaschi put one foot into the Top 16.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008