Montepaschi outguns Maccabi in Siena
Montepaschi Siena bested Maccabi Tel Aviv 79-69 at Palaestra on Thursday night in the third meeting between the two teams this year. The Italian champs demonstrated their credentials in a great display of offensive variety and tight defense, establishing Siena as one of the teams to watch in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16. Tomas Ress was Montepaschi Siena’s standout this time around. He scored a career-high 18 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished 2 assists, also coming up with some key blocks and shots from outside. Bobby Brown was marked tightly but still managed 16 points and 7 assists, while David Moss added 13 points, Kristjan Kangur 11 and Matt Janning 10. For Maccabi, Shawn James was the key man on offense with 18 points, before he fouled out in the fourth quarter. Lior Eliyahu contributed 13 points, Ricky Hickman tallied 12 points and 8 rebounds and David Logan scored 11 in defeat.
First quarter: Offensive powerhouses display tough defense
The game began at a fierce pace, with two of the best offensive teams in the regular season showing off their defense with blocks, steals and forced turnovers. It took more than two minutes before the scoring was opened up by Hickman from the foul line. A step-back three was Brown’s first contribution for Montepaschi, and he hit another triple from deep for his next shot. In off the bench, James had the early impact for Maccabi to keep things tight, using his spectacular inside game to overpower Montepaschi in the paint. To match the outside threat, Maccabi coach David Blatt brought on Logan, but it was James who was providing the points for the visiting side. Montepaschi made it 17-11 with 1:30 to go. Ress joined in the perimeter shooting party with a late triple, moving the score to 20-15. It was the first time in the three meetings between the two teams this season in which the home side had won the first quarter.
Second quarter: Montepaschi pulls ahead in three-point shootout
Logan found his shot at the start of the second quarter, putting in a three-pointer from deep to bring the score closer. Montepaschi’s Kristjan Kangur hit his first triple from the corner as the long range shots began to pile up. James was taken off after being fouled, making way for Maccabi’s new signing Darko Planinic. Logan’s big three-pointer made it a 1-point game. Hickman then tied it up at 29-29 with a basket and a free throw. Montepaschi’s varied offense eventually brought it to 35-29, and a late triple from Janning kept up the theme of the half: Siena’s superior accuracy giving it the advantage on the scoreboard. Free throws by Janning, James and Brown kept the distance the same and at the break it was 44-35.
Third quarter: Siena surges ahead by double digits
Ress hit another triple early in the third quarter, but was also doing a fantastic job of spreading out the Maccabi defense and opening up shots for his teammates. His highlight of the quarter was a huge block on Malcolm Thomas that transitioned into a dunk of his own on the other end of the court. Siena established a double-digit lead for the first time courtesy of Moss’s put-back, taking the score to 50-39. Ress piled on the pain straight after with another three-pointer, continuing his fantastic quarter. Maccabi moved back to within 6 points with an Eliyahu layup, before Montepaschi recovered from a blip to extend its cushion. Double-digit order was resumed with another Janning shot from outside, and the score heading into the fourth quarter would be 61-51 –despite a Devin Smith three-pointer just past the buzzer that would not count.
Fourth quarter: Montepaschi holds off final Maccabi push
Tight defense returned for the start of the final quarter, including another big Ress block on James. Montepaschi benched Brown, who had been the focus of Maccabi’s defensive efforts and had been kept quiet on points in the second half –chalking up 7 assists to make up for a lack of shots. Maccabi made the most of Brown’s absence to claw back points, bringing the score to 65-60 before Ress provided another killer sideline perimeter shot. With his fifth foul, Maccabi’s top scorer James was sent to the stands four minutes before the end, just prior to Kristjan Kangur hitting a slick hook shot that made Montepaschi’s lead more comfortable. Back on court, Brown put Montepaschi 74-60 up with only a couple of minutes left on the clock. A Hickman triple gave Maccabi hope, but it had to foul to try and force a turnover; Daniel Hackett’s conversion of 2 free throws brought an end to the visiting side’s chances. Marco Carraretto put the exclamation point on the victory with a final three-pointer, giving Montepaschi a 79-69 win to open its Top 16 campaign.
Thursday, December 27, 2012