Reyes's career scoring night lifts Madrid past Zalgiris
In a battle between former continental champions, Real Madrid downed Zalgiris Kaunas 92-86 in Group F in the Spanish capital on Friday. Madrid improved to 2-1 in Group F, while Zalgiris dropped to 0-3 in Euroleague legend Sarunas Jasikevicius's head coaching debut. Felipe Reyes led the winners with 24 points, a new career high in his 243-game career in the competition. Gustavo Ayon added 16 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks, K.C. Rivers scored 14 points and Jonas Maciulis 12 for Madrid. Renaldas Seibutis led Zalgiris with 13 points and Siim-Sander Vene, Brock Motum, Olivier Hanlan and Edgaras Ulanovas each added 10 points for the visitors. Ayon shined early to give Madrid a 26-18 lead after 10 minutes. The lead reached 13, but Motum and Seibutis pushed Zalgiris to within 45-42 at halftime. Madrid improved its defense after the break and found a go-to guy in Reyes, who helped the champs extend their margin to 65-53 after 30 minutes. Zalgiris did not give up, but Madrid kept a safe margin throughout the fourth quarter. A minute of silence took place before the game to honour the late soccer legend Manuel Velazquez. Ayon received his MVP for December trophy from Madrid basketball great Emiliano Rodriguez in a short pre-game ceremony.
First quarter: Ayon shows MVP credentials
Ayon got Madrid going with a second-chance basket and Maciulis bettered Ulanovas's jumper with a bomb from downtown for a 5-2 lead. K.C. Rivers shined with a fast break layup and a three-pointer by Trey Thompkins prompted Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius call timeout at 10-2. Ulanovas kept pushing Zalgiris with a triple and a layup-plus-foul, but Ayon scored again for a 12-8 Madrid lead. Mantas Kalnietis followed a fast break layup with a one-handed floater, but consecutive baskets by Ayon restored a 16-12 Madrid margin. Ayon stayed unstoppable with a tip-in, Brock Motum and Rivers traded baskets and free throws by Reyes - finishing a four-chance Madrid offense - boosted the hosts' lead to 22-14. Jaycee Carroll hit foul shots to make it a double-digit game, 24-14. Hanlan took over with a reverse, but Ayon ignited the crowd with a dunk. Hanlan scored again in penetration to fix the score at 26-18 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Zalgiris fights back
Ian Vougioukas buried a jump hook early in the quarter. Reyes scored around the basket and a three-pointer by Jeffery Taylor boosted the hosts' lead to 31-20. Martynas Pocius nailed a turnaround jumper and Hanlan split free throws, but a layup by Mo Ndour kept Madrid way ahead, 33-23. Hanlan struck from downtown, but Reyes buried back-to-back shots from beyond the arc for a 39-26 Madrid margin. Motum scored around the basket and exchanged layups with Taylor. Reyes hit a jump hook, but Seibutis erased it with a driving basket and a layup by Motum caused Madrid to call timeout at 43-34. Ayon made free throws, but Seibutis took over with a reverse layup and Kalnietis added free throws to bring the visitors a bit closer. Vougioukas hit foul shots and so did Maciulis as Zalgiris came within 45-42 at halftime.
Third quarter: Defense helps Madrid take off
Rivers shined with a fast break layup soon after the break, which Maciulis followed with a put-back basket for a 49-42 Madrid lead. Ulanovas hit his tradmeark jump hook in the low post, but Maciulis did even better with a layup-plus-foul. Seibutis showed great determination with an electric driving layup that Ayon erased with an off-balance tip-in, good for a 54-46 Madrid margin. Seibutis stayed on fire with a mid-range jumper, which Reyes erased with a closer jumper off the glass. Madrid improved its defense off a timeout, but a layup by Paulius Jankunas - his first points - kept Zalgiris as close as 56-50. Rodriguez took over with a step-back three-pointer from the left corner and Maciulis added free throws to restore a double-digit Madrid lead, 61-50. Siim-Sander Vene sank a three-pointer, but Reyes quickly answered with a turnaround jumper. A buzzer-beating jumper by Andres Nocioni gave Los Blancos a 65-53 margin after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Madrid holds on to win
Rivers buried a three-pointer early in the quarter. Vougioukas scored again and free throws by Nocioni made it a 15-point game. Hanlan shined with a big basket in penetration, which Reyes bettered with an off-balance three-point play. Pocius found space for an uncontested layup and a five-meter jumper by Vene gave Zalgiris hope at 73-61. A jumper by Jankunas caused Madrid to call timeout at 73-63. Nocioni stepped up with an alley-oop layup, but Vene did better with a bomb from downtown. Carroll answered from downtown and a dunk by Jankunas kept the guests within 78-68 with over four minutes left. Jankunas hit a jump hook and a three-point play by Seibutis brought his team within 78-73. Reyes and Vougioukas also got respective layup-plus-fouls and a three-pointer by Rivers led Zalgiris to call timeout at 84-76. Lekavicius answered from beyond the arc, but Ayon’s tip-in sealed the outcome.
Friday, January 15, 2016