Spirou Basket sent a message that echoed all around the Eurocup Last 16 by edging Lietuvos Rytas 78-74 in front of a sellout crowd in Charleroi, Belgium in Group L on Tuesday night. Spirou ties for first place with iurbentia Bilbao Basket and visits the Artland Dragons next week. Meanwhile, L. Rytas will look for its first win against Bilbao at home next Tuesday. Jerry Johnson led the winners with 23 points. Len Matela added 12 while Matt Walsh and Wes Wilkinson each had 11 for Spirou. Donatas Zavackas led L. Rytas with 22 points. Chuck Eidson added 19 while Marijonas Petravicius had 10 for the guests, that led 31-39 at halftime. Sacha Massot and Walsh, that had been scoreless until that moment, led the hosts' comeback in the third quarter, as a three-point play by Matela gave Spirou a 54-53 edge. A three-pointer by Walsh boosted the hosts' margin to 69-61 but an outstanding Eidson singlehandedly brought Spirou within 71-69. A key three-point play by Massot and free throws by Johnson allowed Spirou to seal the outcome down the stretch.
Wilkinson got Spirou going with a layup while Jure Lalic added three-pointer for a 5-2 Spirou lead. L. Rytas soon adjusted its defense while Eidson and Zavackas each struck twice from downtown in a 4-13 run that gave the guests a 7-15 margin. Johnson took over with a three-point play and Andre Riddick added a tip-in to get the hosts as close as 12-15. Zavackas nailed his third triple and added free throws to make it an eight-point game, 12-20. Matela scored down low, Riddick added a power layup while a three-pointer by Johnson brought Spirou back to life, 19-21. Milko Bjelica stepped up for L. Rytas but free throws by Wilkinson kept the hosts within 21-24 after 10 minutes. Steponas Babrauskas stepped up with a fast break layup while Petravicius dunked it for a 21-28 margin early in the second quarter. Spirou has been scoreless for more than 4 minutes while Eidson fed Petravicius for an easy layup. Johnson scored in transition, as L. Rytas used Eidson as point guard now. Riddick scored in the paint while a three-pointer by Johnson brought Spirou even closer, 29-30. Babrauskas had 4 points in a 0-6 run that gave L. Rytas some fresh air, 29-35. Johnson shined with a driving layup that Gecevicius bettered with a triple to give L. Rytas a 31-39 margin as both teams headed back to the locker rooms.
Bjelica beat the shot clock buzzer with a six-meter jumper right after the break. Justin Hamilton scored in penetration, igniting a 7-0 run that Matt Walsh capped with a triple to make the guests call a much-needed timeout. Petravicius made free throws that Massot matched with a put-back basket for a 40-43 score. A layup by Matela and a put-back dunk by Massot tied it at 44-44. Bjelica slammed it in the other end and Zavackas sank a jumper but Walsh and Johnson tied the game again, 48-48. Mindaugas Lukauskis and Walsh traded bombs from downtown while a three-point play by Matela completed the hosts' comeback, 54-53. Another basket by Matela and free throws by Wilkinson boosted Spirou's margin to 58-53 after 30 minutes. Matela nailed a triple but Eidson singlehandedly kept L. Rytas within 63-59 with 7 minutes to go. Wilkinson fired in a corner three-pointer but Eidson scored again for a 66-61 L. Rytas deficit. Walsh sank a step-back triple but free throws by Petravicius and a jumper by Eidson brought the guests back to life, 69-65. Eidson - who else? - and Zavackas made free throws for a 71-69 L. Rytas deficit with 2:17 remaining. Massot took over with a critical layup-plus-foul but a put-back layup by Bjelica and a free throw by Zavackas kept the guests within 74-72 with 41.3 seconds to go. Wilkinson missed foul shots but grabbed the offensive board, allowing Johnson to seal the outcome with free throws, 76-72, with 11.2 seconds to go.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009