Lietuvos Rytas bounced back from its first loss in this Eurocup season by downing Benetton Basket 78-69 in Last 16 Group L in Vilnius, Lithuania on Tuesday. Both teams tie in Group K with a 1-1 record. Jonas Valanciunas paced the winners with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Mindaugas Katelynas added 14 points, Ronnie Seibutis had 13 - all in the second half - while Aleksandar Rasic got 12 for L. Rytas. Jeff Viggiano led Benetton with 15 points. Marcus Goree added 12, Vlad Moldoveanu had 11 while Sani Becirovic got 10 on 10-of-10 free throws and 9 assists for Benetton. Despite missing all of his 8 field goal attempts, Becirovic finished the game with a performance index ranking of 21. Benetton overcome a slow start with an 0-8 run that Viggiano capped with a dunk and which gave his team a 16-17 margin. Tyrese Rice, Rasic and Valanciunas stepped up to make L. Rytas get a 37-30 lead at halftime. A 0-10 run that Becirovic capped with free throws gave Benetton its last lead, 46-47, at the end of the third quarter. Seibutis sank back-to-back triples, Katelynas took over in crunch time, getting a lot of help from Valanciunas to lead L. Rytas to well-deserved, hard-fought home win.
Valanciunas got L. Rytas going with a layup and a dunkl by Lawrence Roberts soon helped the hosts to get a 5-2 lead. Viggiano downed a three-pointer but Rasic struck twice from downtown for an 11-5 L. Rytas margin. Gino Cuccarolo hit a jumper that Rasic erased with free throws. Roberts and Benjamin Ortner traded baskets and free throw by Valanciunas kept the hosts way ahead, 16-9. Moldoveanu scored down low, as Benetton improved its defense late in the first quarter. Free throws by Ortner and Becirovic brought Benetton within 16-15 after 10 minutes. Viggiano dunked it off a steal to cap a 0-8 run that gave Benetton its first lead, 16-17. L. Rytas had been scoreless for 5 minutes until Rice followed free throws with a triple. Moldoveanu answered from downtown and foul shots by Becirovic kept Benetton within 23-22. Rice shined with a driving layup, as the guests entered the foul bonus. Rasic and Valanciunas took advantage of that with free throws to boost the hosts' lead to 29-22. Moldoveanu hit foul shots and Jobey Thomas' erased Pradrag Samardziski's dunk with an off-balance shot. Goree hit a jump hook but Katelynas nailed a triple, Rasic added a layup and a free throw by Rice fixed the halftime score at 37-30.
Roberts downed a three-pointer right after the break but a long jumper by Moldoveanu kept Benetton within 40-32. Seibutis, who had been scoreless until that moment, hit a jumper that Goree bettered with a bomb from downtown. Valanciunas hit a baseline jumper, as the guests kept struggling to score. Goree rescued Benetton with a jump hook but free throws by Roberts gave L. Rytas a 46-37 margin. Cuccarolo followed a layup with free throws and Viggiano had 3 points in a 0-10 run that Becirovic capped with free throws to put Benetton back ahead, 46-47, after 30 minutes. Seibutis buried back-to-back three-pointers early in the fourth quarter to send the crowd to their feet at 52-47. Goree answered from downtown but a jump hook by Valanciunas gave L. Rytas some fresh air at 54-50. Thomas shined with a follow-up layup but Seibutis and Katelynas made Benetton call timeout, 58-52, with over 6 minutes to go. Viggiano shined with a backdoor layup but free throws by Steponas Babrauskas and a triple by Katelynas made it a nine-point game, 63-54. Viggiano scored again and Ortner added a jumper but Valanciunas dunked it twice for a 67-58 L. Rytas lead. Free throws by Katelynas and a three-point play by Seibutis sealed the outcome, 72-62, as Benetton did not recover in the final 2 minutes.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012