Lietuvos Rytas stunned Caja Laboral 86-89
Khalid El-Amin completed a near-perfect night with a game-winning triple on the buzzer to lift Lietuvos Rytas to an 86-89 road victory over Caja Laboral on Wednesday at Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria, Spain. A week after Laboral started the Top 16 with a road win and L. Rytas lost at home, the two reversed roles at the end of a thrilling fourth quarter that featured 5 lead changes and four ties – the last of which came on a Mirza Teletovic triple with 5.6 seconds left that seemed to have the game heading to overtime. That was before El-Amin’s heroics, which left the two teams with 1-1 records in Group E. The visitors shined early and led by as many as 9 in the second quarter. Teletovic heated up thanks to the excellent playmaking skills of Marcelinho Huertas to put Laboral ahead by as many as 10 in the third quarter. L. Rytas responded through D.J. Strawberry in his Euroleague debut and veteran Kenan Bajramovic to roar back and set up the thrilling fourth quarter. El-Amin scored 15 of his season-high 22 in the last 10 minutes – and 7 in the final minute – to lead the winners. He missed just one shot in a standout performance. Bajramovic added 19 points – 13 in the last six-and-a-half minutes – Milko Bjelica scored 13 and Strawberry finished with 12. Teletovic scored 20 to lead Laboral, while Marcelinho amassed 17 points and 11 assists. Stanko Barac tallied 15 points and Brad Oleson and Esteban Batista netted 10 each in defeat.
Bjelica opened the scoring with a strike from downtown before Marcelinho countered from the same distance. Barac took advantage of some space to drill a three. Bjelica continued to be a top option on offense for the visitors. Batista used his size for a tip-in, but L. Rytas turned to Brad Newley, who scored twice to lift the Lithuanian champs to an 8-9 lead. Bjelica remained hot with another triple, however Barac sank a foul-line jumper to knot the score at 12-12 midway through the opening quarter. The teams remained neck-and-neck, with Oleson coming through with a three before Bajramovic answered with a jumper. After Barac scored and was fouled, El-Amin nailed a three of his own. L. Rytas went up by 7 when Jonas Valanciunas scored off a missed Bajramovic free throw and then Strawberry found Bajramovic for a layup in transition. A timeout did not stop the visitors as Cemal Nalga rejected Batista and Strawberry passed crosscourt to Simas Jasaitis for a layup to end the first quarter on a 0-10 run and a 17-26 L. Rytas advantage.
Fernando San Emeterio’s reverse layup a minute into the second quarter ended a lengthy Laboral scoring drought. A turnover led to a Strawberry layup for his first Euroleague points. Huertas struck from downtown, but L, Rytas stayed in control through excellent defense and by crashing the offensive glass. Strawberry went through growing pains with a pair of ball-handling violations. Barac made a mid-range jumper and Pau Ribas got the arena rocking with a triple that cut the gap to 27-29. Head coach Aleksandar Trifunovic used a timeout to calm his team after which Valanciunas scored on consecutive possessions. However Olseon and Barac kept pace for the hosts. Marcelinho used some trickeration to get to the hoop and draw a goaltending call from Valanciunas that tied the score at 33-33. Barac put Laboral back on top with 2 free throws. Jasaitis quickly tied the game only to see Teletovic strike from downtown. Valanciunas impressed inside as he overpowered Batista for a basket. Marcelinho scored again for the hosts and both teams missed on their final possessions of the half to make it 40-37 at the break.
The first few minutes of the second half featured a lot of action, but no points until San Emeterio fed Teletovic for a layup. The duo connected for a basket-plus-foul moments later as the hosts started to pull away. Strawberry attacked the basket for L. Rytas’s first points of the half nearly three-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter. However Teletovic stayed hot with a triple for a 48-39 lead. Newley countered with a three for the visitors and Bjelica cut the gap to 4 with a pair of free throws midway through the third quarter. Oleson attacked the basket for a slam and then Marcelinho stuck for a layup in transition before San Emeterio nailed a long jumper, giving the hosts their first double-digit lead. Strawberry kept L. Rytas alive with a pull-up three. Bjelica added another three before Strawberry silenced the crowd with a third L. Rytas triple in less than a minute to make it 56-53, prompting a Laboral timeout. El-Amin dropped in a floater with 5 seconds left to bring his team within 1 points with 10 minutes to play.
Strawberry continued the L. Rytas run and gave the visitors the lead with a layup after El-Amin blocked a Pau Ribas three-point attempt. Barac ended the L. Rytas run at 13-2 and Teletovic followed with a big triple. El-Amin and Teletovic traded threes as the crowd roared with approval. El-Amin pulled up for a foul line jumper that tied the score at 64-64. Bajramovic made another lead change with a jumper and El-Amin added to his super fourth quarter with a triple. Oleson knocked down a big three at the other end to make it 67-69. Bajramovic extended the three-point shootout when he converted from downtown. Batista corralled a missed Huertas free throw to score and then followed a missed Oleson layup for a tip-in to tie the score at 72-72. After a timeout, Bajramovic connected on a triple –plus a foul – to put L. Rytas up 4 with 3:19 to play. Batista scored inside and Bajramovic matched him from the line. San Emeterio sank a clutch triple to close the gap to 77-78 with just over two minutes to play. San Emeterio then tied the game and put Laboral ahead with 2 free throws, but Bjelica’s offensive rebound and basket gave the visitors a 1-point edge. Oleson and San Emeterio missed on Laboral’s next possession before Bajramovic put L. Rytas up 78-82 with 2 successful free throws with 47.4 seconds remaining. Laboral put Batista on the line with 32.6 seconds remaining, but missed twice. However San Emeterio leapt to control the rebound and after he drove and was fouled, Batista was there for the tip-in with 19.7 seconds left. Laboral fouled El-Amin with 15.9 to play and he came through to make it 81-84. Not willing to allow a three, Strawberry fouled Huertas with 13.6 seconds left and the playmaker sank both. Two-tenths of a second later, the free throw contest continued with El-Amin making 2. This time Laboral got a three-point shot off and Teletovic tied the game with 5.6 seconds left. Just when it seemed that the game was headed for overtime , El-Amin moved the ball up the court and fired a deep desperation triple that dropped to the bottom of the net and silenced the crowd, giving L. Rytas a stunning road win.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011