Parakhouski game-winner saves Rytas
In a do-or-die Group E clash, Artsiom Parakhouski hit a last-second jumper to lift Rytas Vilnius to a thrilling and a life-saving 77-78 road win over Partizan NIS Belgrade at the packed Aleksandar Nikolic Hall in the Serbian capital on Wednesday night. Both teams now hold 2-3 records ahead of the final Top 16 round, however, the win kept Rytas alive, while eliminating Partizan due to a tiebreaker. Rytas will host AS Monaco in a winner-takes-all game for a place in the EuroCup Quarterfinals next week. Parakhouski shined with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks to lead in victory, while Eimantas Bedzius had a career-night netting 21 points on 5-for-9 three-point shooting. Jock Landale posted 14 points for Partizan, Bandja Sy had 13 and Alex Renfroe collected 11 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds in defeat.
Both teams got into an offensive rhythm from the start. Bendzius opened the scoring from downtown and a three-point play from Chris Kramer made it 6-10 early on. Bendzius hit another from long range, but Partizan countered with a pair of dunks from Djordje Gagic and a triple apiece from Rade Zagorac and Renfroe that helped tie it at 15-15. A dunk from Sy made it 21-18, but Kramer, Deividas Sirvydis and Bendzius each knocked down a three-pointer, with Bendzius hitting his fourth of the quarter, to give Rytas a 28-30 advantage after 10 minutes. Two more threes by the visitors, both from Rok Stipcevic, extended it to 31-38 in the second quarter. The scoring slowed down and after Rytas went up 33-42 with 3 minutes left in the half, Renfroe and Sy cut it to 40-44 at halftime. Marcus Paige cut into the lead some more with a three-pointer, but Parakhouski had a three-point play and Bendzius nailed his fifth triple to open a 44-52 margin. Rytas stepped up on defense to extend it to 49-60, but Vanja Marinkovic scored from long range to snap Partizan's scoring drought and he hit another one to cut the deficit to 57-60. Parakhouski had a dunk in the last minute of the third and a three-point play early in the fourth to make it 57-67. Seeley and Parakhouski kept the margin in double digits before 6 consecutive points from Landale cut it to 67-71 midway through the final quarter. A second-chance three-pointer from Sy and a put-back by Renfroe helped tie the game at 73-73 with 1:55 to go. Marinkovic put Partizan in front with a mid-range jumper, 75-74 with 1:20 to go. Parakhouski had a layup to put Rytas back in front before Landale came up with a block on one end and a layup on the other to give Partizan a 77-76 edge with 10 seconds left on the clock. However, Parakhouski's jumper gave Rytas a life-saving victory.
Rytas had 10.2 seconds for its last possession. After a timeout, Chris Kramer drove for a tough runner and missed, but the ball went out of bounds belonging to Rytas. The clock was down to 2.7 seconds, Kramer inbounded the ball below Partizan's basket and Artsiom Parakhouski's catch-and-shoot jumper found the bottom of the net to end this thriller in Belgrade
Eimantas Bendzius chose the perfect time for the best game of his EuroCup career. Bendzius entered the contest with career-highs of 18 points and 4 triples made in a single game, but by the end of the first quarter, he already had 15 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting. He finished the night with 21 points on 5-for-9 three-pointers plus 5 rebounds.
Point guard contributions
Rok Stipcevic gave Rytas a big lift off the bench with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, while Chris Kramer finished with 10 points, 7 assists and 4 steals.
Partizan allowed 30 points in the first quarter, but still managed to hold Rytas below 80 points. This was the 11th consecutive game Partizan's defense kept opponents below 80 points.
Do-or-die time next week
While the loss eliminated Partizan, this outcome means Rytas will hosts AS Monaco with the winner going to the quarterfinals. Partizan is eliminated because it got swept by Rytas and has a 1-point tiebreaker loss to Monaco. Partizan will finish its EuroCup campaign on the road against group winner ALBA Berlin.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019