Zalgiris takes crucial win over Buducnost
Zalgiris Kaunas ended a three-game losing streak against a stubborn Buducnost VOLI Podgorica side on Friday by 84-76 at home to keep its playoff hopes alive. The victory, just its second in eight games, lifted Zalgiris to 9-14 on the season, while Buducnost dropped to 6-17. The home crowd got behind Zalgiris to get the home team over the line at the end of a back-and-forth affair. The game started slowly but the temperature was turned all the way up in Zalgirio Arena as the game turned into a shootout between Norris Cole and Brandon Davies, who starred for their respective sides. Cole finished with 26 points and Davies with 21. In a complete performance from Davies, he also had 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals for the winners. Thomas Walkup added 14 points and 6 assists, while Marius Grigonis scored 16 and Edgaras Ulanovas 12. For the hosts, Cole was the standout but Edwin Jackson's 12 points helped them in the early going and Devin Williams chipped in with 10 in his EuroLeague debut in after having been signed last week.
Davies scored the last 4 points in an early 8-0 run to 13-7 lead, but Edwin Jackson's triple eventually tied it up, 16-16. Rokas Jokubaitis and Norris Cole hit free throws before Thomas Walkup raced the length of the court for a buzzer-beating runner to put Zalgiris up 20-18 after 10 minutes. Williams helped Buducnost take the lead early in the second quarter, but Grigonis struck from deep to take it back, 25-23, for Zalgiris. Davies took over from there, feeding Arturas Milaknis for a triple before detonating a dunk for a 34-25 difference. Milaknis dunked off a feed by Leo Westermann to raise it to double-digits, but Nemanja Gordic's triple on the buzzer closed the halftime gap to 39-36. Ulanovas pushed Zalgiris ahead 51-44 from deep soon after the break, but Cole took over from there with a 16-point shooting show over 8 minutes that left Buducnost in charge 60-62 after 30 minutes. Cole's next shot from deep still had Buducnost in front, 66-67, with 7:30 to play, which is when Walkup's triple started a 10-1 takeover run in which Davies scored 4 points and assisted Ulanovas on another basket. Coty Clarke got Buducnost within 80-74 late, but Grigonis scored 4 points in a row to seal the deal.
Thomas Walkup started at point guard in the absence of usual starter Nate Walters and he had a night to remember in front of the home crowd, contributing career highs of 14 points and 6 assists. His lead-changing three-pointer in the fourth quarter made it 69-67, after which Zalgiris did not trail again.
After a five-point first half, Norris Cole came alive and was all but unstoppable as Buducnost took over the lead in the third quarter. Cole drilled 16 points in 8 minutes, the last of which was a three-pointer to finish it with Buducnost in front 60-62.
History was made when Fedor Zugic of Buducnost entered the game with 42.1 seconds left to the youngest player to appear in a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague game this century, at 15 years and 157 days.
In Round 24, Zalgiris will travel to the north of Spain to play KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Thursday in a pivotal game for both teams in the playoffs race. Buducnost welcomes FC Bayern Munich to the Moraca Sports Centre in Montenegro on Friday.
Friday, February 22, 2019