Montepaschi held serve at home in Siena by topping Adecco Asvel 86-70 in their first Group B game on Wednesday night. Montepaschi took an even game after one quarter and stretched its lead to a high of 23 points in the second half, rejecting every attempt by Asvel to come back. Montepaschi earned a1-0 record by putting five scorers players in double figures, led by David Vanterpool with 18 points. Vanterpool was the man at both ends of the floor in the second quarter, when Montepaschi took charge for good. Vrbica Stefanov and Benjamin Eze added 13 points apiece for the winners, while Michalis Kakiouzis drilled 12 and Bootsy Thornton 11. For Asvel, Huseyin Besok returned to the Euroleague with 17 points 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Harold Mrazek and Tomislav Ruzic added 11 points each for Asvel, Stephane Pelle 10.
The game started with a great balance. Stephane Pelle opened the way from the middle range for Asvel and Vrbica Stefanov scored the first basket of Montepaschi with a drive straight into Asvel's defense. The guests were ready to run whenever possible, led by Terrel Lyday. The visiting point guard went one-on-one from the top several times, while Bootsy Thornton started scoring and rebounding for Montepaschi. Makan Dioumassi came off the bench early to hit a tiriple for Asvel. Montepaschi took its first lead at 14-13 with a layup by Stefanov. Michalis Kakiouzis earned 2 free throws for Montepaschi, but Asvel hit a 4-0 run with a sweet jumper by Pelle and free throws by Harold Mrazek. The fuse was lit, and the hosts found the triple by David Vanterpool to close the first quarter with a 19-17 edge.
Vanterpool opened the second quarter by faking on the baseline and completing a spectacular basket-plus-foul. Huseyin Besok showed again Asvel's frontcourt can be very dangerous from the middle range, but Carlton Myers, just arrived on the court, fired from downtown for a 26-21 home lead. On a high pick-and-roll, Montepaschi found Giacomo Galanda for a triple that boosted the lead to 8 points. Asvel stayed patient as Besok drilled another jumper, but soon Benjamin Eze came on for Montepaschi to block two shots and take a pass from Vanterpool that resulted in a three-point play underneath. When they combined again on a steal and Big Ben fastbreak dunk, the Siena crowd exploded. After 2 more Vanterpool assist, the lead reached 15 and Asvel struggled to score. In the last 2 possessions of the quarter, Thornton and Yohann Sangare cancelled out each other's three-point shots, but Montepaschi was already in control with a 50-32 lead.
After halftime, Montepaschi zoomed ahead by 23 points behind Efthimios Rentzias before Asvel found answers from Besok, Mrazek and Tomislav Ruzic to draw within 55-40. The absence of Lyday due to foul trouble hurt Asvel, but Besok remained a factor in the paint and kept the visitors within shouting distance. Asvel switched to zone defense and froze Montepaschi's high-percentage shooting, then a Mrazek triple and a Lyday returned for a jumper that made it 61-52. Kakiouzis was again there to answer and Vanterpool added 5 points in a row to restore a 13-point lead, 68-55, after 30 minutes.
It took 5 minutes for both teams to share 10 points in the fourth quarter. Asvel again cut the difference to single digits, 62-53, on a Danny Miller layup. But again Montepaschi guarded its distance as Mindaugas Zukauskas confirmed it with a corner triple. Sangare scored from downtown too, but soon Stefanov was sealing the outcome with two steals and a big triple that made it 82-67. Asvel had Besok playing strong near the rims, but too little time left to avoid a 16-point loss at the hands of the Italian champs.
Wednesday, November 3, 2004