BARCELONA — Regal Barcelona came into Thursday night letting up just 59 points per game. Montepaschi Siena scored more than half that in the final nine minutes and sent the team from Catalunya packing with their first loss of the year, a 77-74 final.
And though Siena’s Coach Simone Pianigiani has locked up five straight Italian Championships and is coming off of a Euroleague Final Four, this win belongs right near the top of his list.
Why? Because he beat Europe’s best team without his three best players.
In Bo McCalebb, Rimantas Kaukenas and Ksistof Lavrinovc, Pianigiani is missing out on an MVP candidate at the point, his second-leading scorer and one of Europe’s most accomplished stretch bigs, respectively. That’s 54 percent of Siena’s scoring, 51 percent of their assists and 60 percent of their steals (Siena led the Euroleague in thefts last season).
Still, for a second straight week without all three—McCalebb has missed just two games while the Lithuanians have missed three apiece—Pianigiani pulled off a win against a Top 16 team.
The first was a 67-64 road win against Galatasaray, who has already punched their ticket to the next round. In that match up, former New Orleans Hornet David Andersen (18) and reigning scoring leader Igor Rakocevic (17) combined for 35 of Siena’s 67.
This week, Rakocevic put up 21, but Andersen’s former club held him to just six points on 3/11 shooting. If you thought you were beating Barcelona on one man’s back, think again.
So on an injury-ridden team that had depth issues even when healthy, the scoring would either have to come from an unlikely candidate or not come at all.