Hapoel Jerusalem shook things up in Group C with an 85-91 road win at Montepaschi Siena on Tuesday night. The win saw Hapoel improve to 3-4, joining Alba Berlin for fourth place. Montepaschi fell to 5-2, with both of its losses coming at Jerusalem's hands. Mario Austin led Hapoel with 19 points and 10 rebounds, but Meir Tapiro was the hero for Jerusalem with a clutch three-pointer and then a big assist to Timmy Bowers down the stretch. Bowers finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds, Tamar Slay added a season-high 14, Tapiro had 13 and 4 assists, Jurica Golemac 12 and 9 rebounds and Ed Cota scored 9 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Romain Sato led Montepaschi with 27 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes, while Joseph Forte had 15 and Lonny Baxter and Rimanatas Kaukenas had 9 each. Hapoel trailed by 10 points midway through the third quarter, but found its way back with Tapiro and Austin leading the charge.
Sato got off to a red-hot start with 5 early points, but Golemac, Cota and Austin put Hapoel on top 5-6. Ben Eze and Austin fought hard in the paint, pushing the play to the perimeter, where Shaun Stonerook's touch helped Siena build an 18-10 lead. Erez Marckovich tried to stop the run with a layup, but a pair of Sato triples gave the hosts a 26-17 advantage. Marckovich and Austin – the only two Hapoel players able to find the basket for several minutes – helped the visitors close the gap to 28-21 after 10 minutes. Bowers found his way to the basket to get Hapoel within 3 early in the second period, causing Montepaschi coach Simone Pianigiani to make some changes, bringing in teenager Luigi Datome, Baxter and Terrel McIntyre. The result was a 4-0 run, including a Datome dunk. Hapoel didn't gave up and answered through Slay, whose dunk put Jerusalem up 44-46. Aggressive 2-3 zone defenses saw a quiet end to the period, which Forte ended on the break to put Siena on top 52-48.
The second half started, like the first with fireworks, as Sato, Slay and McIntyre from downtown got things going. After a Tapiro basket, Eze's tip-in made it 61-53. Siena went to Stonerook and Eze inside as the hosts' lead reached double figures. Hapoel didn't wait to respond as Tapiro, playing with four fouls, made a triple and the foul to reduce the gap to 63-60. The up and down continued. Two spectacular Eze blocks and a Kaukenas triple put Siena up 72-67 after 30 minutes. Hapoel used a three-point barrage to tie the game and eventually go ahead. Pianigiani tried Sato at power forward, but a Kaukenas traveling call gave Hapoel the ball and the visitors used that to retake the lead. Montepaschi went scoreless for 3 minutes as Hapoel took a 75-79 lead. Sato's triple and Baxter inside brought the hosts within 1. Cota missed an open jumper and Siena took the lead. But Austin and then Tapiro with an incredible three-pointer with just over a minute left made it 83-86. Austin added two from the line and Tapiro set up Bowers for a short jumper as Jerusalem handed Siena its second defeat.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006