Montepaschi Siena to the Top 16 with fifth straight win!
After having started the season with three consecutive defeats, Montepaschi Siena roared into the Top 16 with a fifth consecutive victory, socking it to visiting Unicaja Malaga 91-72 in Group B on Friday. Siena raised its record to 5-3 to hold third place in the group, while Unicaja fell to 6-2 and second place despite being tied with Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv on wins and losses. Once again, Siena's league-leading three-point shooters were the reason as they hit 13 of 28 attempts from downtown compared to 3 of 14 for Unicaja - a difference of 30 points. Eight different Siena players made at least one three-pointer as David Moss led the winners with 13 points. Benjamin Ortner had 8 of his 12 points in the final quarter. Kristjan Kangur added 11 points, Aleksandar Rasic and Viktor Sanikidze 10 each. Unicaja, which trailed by double digits consistently after giving up 30 points in the first quarter, got a stellar game from Luka Zoric, who made 11 of 13 two-point shots on his way to 29 points. Krunoslav Simon was Unicaja's other double-digit scorer, with 16 points. If three-pointers were the difference, however, they came because Siena dished 26 assists, a team record in its nine Euroleague seasons. Daniel Hackett had 7 of those, while six of his teammates had at least 2 each, putting on a true lesson in unselfish ball movement from Siena.
First quarter: Sanikidze and Hackett take charge for Siena
Moss started the ball rolling for the hosts as he finished a Sanikidze-led break with a slam and nailed a three from the corner. Moss fed Sanikidze for a slam to make it 7-2 before Simon answered for the visitors and cut the deficit to 9-7 with a three-pointer. Luka Zoric evened things with a long jumper. Montepaschi pulled in front as Moss and Matt Janning connected from downtown. And Bobby Brown threatened to extend it more when he stripped Earl Calloway in the backcourt, but the Unicaja guard raced back to block the attempted layup and Zoric with a layup-and-foul closed the difference to 19-18. Hackett came in for Brown and promptly nailed a three-pointer. The point guard stayed strong with a drive through the heart of the Unicaja defense for a three-point play to extend the lead to 7. An Ortner jumper gave Siena a 30-20 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Unica surge met by Siena resolve
Both teams went to some fresh legs to start the second quarter as Kosta Perovic scored twice inside for Unicaja and Rasic countered with a pair of jumpers for Siena. Kangur continued his red-hot three-point shooting with a triple from the corner to make it 38-26. After a timeout, Kangur made another from almost the exact spot. Marcus Williams tried to get the visitors rolling with a pull-up jumper, but Rasic nailed another three, 44-28. Simon scored twice as Unicaja picked up the pace, but it was to no avail. Marco Carraretto joined the three-point bonanza as the lead shot to 51-33. Zoric scored from the line, however Kangur kept the Montepaschi march going with a layup and then forcing a turnover. More from Zoric and a Zoran Dragic layup were not enough; a free throw by Brown made it 56-40 at the break.
Third quarter: Sanikidze and Hackett take charge for Siena
Brown and Williams traded baskets to open the third quarter before Fran Vazquez dunked on the baseline for Unicaja. At the other end, though, Moss hit Siena's 10th triple already and a steal by Janning led to Sanikidze slamming for the biggest lead yet, 63-44. Another dunk by Vazquez, a second-chance corner three-pointer by James Gist and free throws by Dragic settled down Unicaja, which was suddenly as close at 63-51. Not surprisingly, Siena answered from downtown, with Ress doing the honors, while Sanikidze's free throw restored a 16-point difference, 67-51. Another exchange of baskets ended with Sanikidze joining the three-point fun before Augusto Lima and Zoric combined for 3 points to finish the third quarter with Siena still fully in charge, 74-59.
Fourth quarter: Ortner helps Siena seal deal
Simon blasted a triple and then fed Zoric for a layup to give Unicaja hope by cutting the difference to 74-64 right at the start of the final quarter. But, of course, Siena had Kangur waiting on the opposite arc, and he buried his third triple. With their long-distance shooting reestablished, his Siena teammates fed Ortner for easy baskets inside., the lead was back to 15 points, 81-64. Ortner continued to take over, blocking a shot off the backboard and making a reverse at the other end before feeding Marco Carraretto for a layup that left an 87-64 scoreboard with 4 minutes to play. Unicaja was out of ideas at that point while the Siena fans were rising to their feet for each new attempt from the arc. One streak was over already, another was continuing and Montepaschi Siena was on its way to the Top 16.
Friday, November 30, 2012