Sutton, Parakhouski lead Rytas in Top 16 opener
Rytas Vilnius got off to a strong start in the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 by downing Partizan NIS Belgrade 80-74 in the Lithuanian capital on Wednesday. Dominique Sutton led the winners with 21 points and tied a personal best with 5 steals. Art Parakhouski posted 14 points and 8 rebounds in his first EuroCup game with the club and fellow big man Martynas Echodas added 11 and 8 for Rytas. Rade Zagorac paced Partizan with 17 points. Jock Landale added 15 points and 9 boards, Vanja Marinkovic scored 13 and Alex Renfrow tallied 7 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists in his Partizan debut.
Bandja Sy got Partizan going with an alley-oop slam, but a 7-0 run that Deividas Sirvydis capped with a three-pointer gave Rytas the lead, 7-2. Landale stepped up with a layup-plus-foul only to see Sirvydis and Echodas fuel an 8-0 run that made it a double-digit game, 15-5. Stefan Jankovic and Alex Renfroe each struck from downtown and a jumper by Aleksej Nikolic caused Rytas to call timeout at 15-13. The hosts found a new go-to guy in Sutton, who hit a floater and a couple of big three-pointers to restore a 28-18 Rytas lead. Marcus Paige and Zagorac brought Partizan within 28-23 after 10 minutes. Eimantas Bendzius struck from beyond the arc early in the second quarter, but Paige and Sy each hit a triple in a 0-10 run that put Partizan in charge 31-33. Seeley buried a three-pointer and Parakhouski scored twice in the paint, but Djordje Gagic and Renfroe kept Partizan ahead, 40-41. An unstoppable Sutton followed a three-point play with a turnaround jumper to restore a 48-42 Rytas lead at halftime. Back-to-back triples by Zagorac and Marinkovic tied the game, 48-48, soon after the break. Parakhouski and Sutton stepped up for the hosts and an alley-oop dunk by Echodas made it a 4-point game. Marinkovic and Zagorac fueled a 0-6 Partizan run, but three-pointers by Mindaugas Girdziunas, Rok Stipcevic and Arnas Butkevicius prompted the visitors to stop the game at 63-58. A free throw by Marinkovic and a layup by Parakhouski fixed the score at 65-59 after 30 minutes. Layups by Butkevicius and Echodas restored a double-digit Rytas lead, 69-59, early in the fourth quarter. Marinkovic and Zagorac tried to change things for their team and Landale dunked twice, after which the hosts called timeout, 72-70, with 3 minutes left. Sutton and Zagorac exchanged baskets and a jump hook by Echodas gave Rytas fresh air at 76-72. Landale dunked again, but a jumper by Parakhouski and a driving layup by Butkevicius all but sealed the outcome, 80-74, with 36.5 seconds left.
Sutton was a difference-maker at both ends of the floor, finishing the game with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals – which matched his career-high, 9 fouls drawn and a performance index rating of 28.
It was a back-and-forth battle decided down the stretch. Landale dunked to bring Partizan within 76-74 in the next-to-last minute, but Parakhouski hit a jumper from the elbow and Butkevicius added a driving basket that allowed Rytas to wrap up the win, 80-74.
Partizan hit 7 of 12 three-point shots in the first half (58.3%), but once Rytas adjusted its defense after the break, the visitors made only 2 of 14 threes (14.3%) over the final 20 minutes. Rytas also finished the game with 22 assists and just 11 turnovers.
Did you notice?
Rytas won its opening game in the EuroCup's second group stage for the first time since 2015 when it defeated PGE Turow Zgorzelec 98-86 in Game 1 of the Last 32. Rytas failed to reach the Top 16 in 2016 and lost this phase's opener against Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem in 2017 and Zenit St. Petersburg in 2018.
Both teams return to 7DAYS EuroCup action on Wednesday, January 9; Rytas visits AS Monaco and Partizan hosts ALBA Berlin.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019