Neptunas rallies late past Aris
Facing a must-win situation and time running out, Neptunas Klaipeda put together a 13-0 run late in the game to beat Aris Thessaloniki 72-68 and keep alive its chances to progress to the next round. Both teams hold 2-3 record in Group J, with Neptunas travelling to ALBA Berlin, and Aris hosting EA7 Emporio Armani Milan next week. Aris led 56-63 with 3:10 to go in the game, but the hosts scored 13 unanswered points, then sealed the game from the free throw line to stay in the hunt for one of the top two places in the group. Daniela Ewing had 18 points, 6 steals, 4 assists and 5 rebounds to pace Neptunas. Martynas Mazeika and Donatas Zavackas each scored 16, while Travis Bader netted 11 in victory. Dominic Water had 16 points for Aris. Okaro White scored 14, Theodoros Zaras finished with 11, while Jamelle Hagins collected 10 points and 8 rebounds in defeat.
Both offenses were looking to find their rhythm early on. Waters hit from downtown to give Aris 8-9 after 5 minutes, but Neptunas answered with three-pointers on three consecutive possessions, two by Bader and one from Ewing to open 19-11. Zaras hit from long range for the visitors, making it 21-16 after 10 minutes, but a pair of baskets from Mazeika and third three-pointer from Bader extended the lead to 28-18. Jerel McNeal and White stepped up for Aris to half the deficit, and after a three-point play by Arvydas Siksnius, a put-back from Hagins and a fastbreak basket by White cut the deficit to 33-30. Zavackas and Mazeika scored for Neptunas, but White went on to score 7 more points for Aris to keep it within a single possession, and helped the visitors stay within 43-41 at halftime.
Baskets were few and far between in the third quarter. A fastbreak basket from Ewing made it 48-41 after three and a half minutes in the second half, but a pair of baskets from Waters kept the visitors close, and Hagins made a basket-plus-foul to tie it at 48-48. A bucket from Vassilis Xanthopoulos put Aris briefly ahead 49-50, and teams entered fourth quarter all squared at 50-50. Zavackas and Slaven Cupkovic traded triples, before seven straight points from Waters, capped by a triple, gave Aris 53-60 with 4 minutes to go. Ewing hit a three-pointer to end Neptunas' 5-minute scoring drought. Xanthopoulos answered with a three of his own, but Ewing and Zavackas sparked the hosts' run, during which Mazeika hit a three-pointer to make it 64-63 with a minute left, and added a three-point play on the next trip down the floor, 67-63. Aris made a final push, but Ewing and Zavackas sealed it from the foul line in the final 25 seconds.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016