Gran Canaria's defense stops Zalgiris
Herbalife Gran Canaria grabbed its sixth win in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague by topping Zalgiris Kaunas 73-66 at home on Friday. Gran Canaria improved to 6-9 in the standings, 12th overall but just one win away from Zalgiris, which is now tied for 8th at 7-8. Xavi Rabaseda led the winners with 15 points. Ondrej Balvin added 12 while Albert Oliver had 10 for Gran Canaria. Arturas Milaknis led Zalgiris with 13 points. Derrick Walton Jr. and Brandon Davies each added 11 for the guests.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Rabaseda and Oliver gave Gran Canaria an early 6-0 lead. Davies dunked and Nate Wolters added a floater but Rabaseda and Balvin kept the hosts in charge, 12-4. Milaknis and Aaron White stepped up with consecutive layups, and a jumper by Walton Jr. brought the guests closer before Laurynas Birutis and Edgaras Ulanovas fueled a 0-6 Zalgiris run that tied it at 16-16. Free throws by Luke Fischer and a floater by Marcus Eriksson restored a 20-17 Gran Canaria lead after 10 minutes. Thomas Walkup and Marius Grigonis hit jumpers and Milaknis added a triple for a Zalgiris lead, before Fischer took over with a dunk-and-foul, igniting a 12-0 run in which he and Eulis Baez combined for 10 points to give Gran Canaria its first double-digit lead, 34-24. Birutis dunked again and a tip-in by Balvin fixed the halftime score at 36-26. Milaknis, Strawberry and Rabaseda, twice, each struck from downtown for a 45-29 score soon after the break. Birutis and Grigonis tried to change things for Zalgiris, and Walton Jr., Davies and Rokas Jokubaitis brought Zalgiris closer, 57-50, after 30 minutes. Milaknis scored in penetration early in the fourth quarter but Eriksson did better with a bomb from way downtown and Oliver hit a trademark triple to make it 63-52. Anzejs Pasecniks capped a 8-0 run with a put-back slam but Zalgiris was not done. White hit free throws, then Davies followed a dunk with a tip-in for 65-59 with 3 minutes left. Eriksson ignited the crowd with a jumper but White and Walton got Zalgiris even closer, 67-63. Milaknis hit a triple, but a critical steal and foul shots by Oliver sealed the outcome, 71-66, as Zalgiris never recovered.
As always, Xavi Rabaseda was his team's defensive reference but he also delivered on offense, finishing the game with 15 points, only one missed shot and EuroLeague career-highs of 8 rebounds and 27 PIR.
Zalgiris rallied from a 17-point deficit to get within 57-52 early in the fourth quarter but Marcus Eriksson beat the shot clock buzzer with a nine-meter bomb and Albert Oliver also buried a three-pointer to put Gran Canaria back in command, 63-52.
Zalgiris had hit 39.9% three-pointers in its opening 14 games but only downed 4-of-15 against Gran Canaria – just 26.7%. Zalgiris also had nearly as many assists (15) as turnovers (14).
Did you notice?
Gran Canaria limited Zalgiris to a season-lows in scoring (66) and performance index rating (66).
Both teams return to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action next week. Gran Canaria hosts Khimki Moscow Region on Thursday in a rematch of the 2015 7DAYS EuroCup Finals. A day later, Zalgiris welcomes archrivals CSKA Moscow.
Friday, December 28, 2018