Crvena Zvezda hold on for 6-point victory over Rytas
In Game 1 of the Eurocup Eighthfinals, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade defeated Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 88-82 on Wednesday night in Hala Pionir. The second leg will be played next week in the Lithuanian capital, where and a victory or a loss by up to 5 points will be enough for Zvezda to advance. After the teams traded leads for majority of the first half, Branko Lazic hit a triple at the end of the second quarter, and again early in the third to help Zvezda to a 12-0 run and 52-41 lead. The hosts never relinquished the lead, and were up 72-60 early in the fourth, but Rytas quickly rallied behind Omar Cook and Renaldas Seibutis. However, Tadija Dragicevic and Boban Marjanovic made sure Zvezda goes on the road for the second leg with an advantage. Marjanovic finished with 21 points, Dragicevic had 16, while DeMarcus Nelson scored 13 with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Seibutis led Rytas off the bench with 17 points in only 21 minutes. Martynas Gecevicius netted 14 on 4-for-7 three-point shooting, Cook added 13 points and dished 6 assists and Juan Palacios scored 13 in defeat.
Both teams started with a fast-pace offense, trying to run up and down the floor. After Jaka Blazic and Palacios traded fastbreak dunks to make it 6-6, Marjanovic scored three consecutive times for the hosts, but Palacios strung together a jumper, a put-back and a triple for Rytas to lead 14-15. Gecevicius followed Palacios with back-to-back three-pointers to extend it to 16-21. Zvezda answered through Blazic and Rasko Katic driving for layups, and Marjanovic had a dunk-plus-free throw, but the visitors used foul shots to remain in front, 23-27 after 10 minutes. Marko Simonovic hit the first triple for Zvezda at the start of the second quarter, but both teams stepped it up defensively. A layup from Marko Tejic and a fastbreak dunk from Simonovic put Zvezda up 32-29 midway through the quarter. Darius Songaila answered with a monster dunk on a breakaway, and teams went on to trade leads the rest of the half. Gecevicius and Steponas Babrauskas sank three-pointers for the visitors, while Nelson had a layup-plus-foul and a triple for Zvezda, before Lazic hit a corner triple in the last second to give the hosts a 45-41 halftime lead.
Zvezda opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run that included a triple from Lazic and a put-back from Dragicevic for a 52-41 cushion. Jelovac snapped Rytas’s drought, before a wide-open corner triple from Gecevicius and a driving layup from Seibutis cut it to 54-52. After Nelson and Seibutis traded jumpers, Dragicevic and Charles Jenkins nailed back-to-back triples, and in the final minute of the quarter Dragicevic hit another one from downtown, helping the hosts to a 70-60 lead going into the fourth quarter. A jumper from Jenkins opened the fourth, giving Zvezda a 12-point lead, but Palacios with a dunk and Cook with a corner triple got the visitors closer. Dragicevic sank another three-pointer for Zvezda, but Cook also hit another one for Rytas. Seibutis drove three times to the hoop, cutting it to 80-78 with three minutes to go. Dragicevic and Marjanovic fought their way to score from close range and extend it to 7 points, before Seibutis hit a jumper to make it 85-80. In the final 20 seconds, Cook drove for a layup for Rytas, but Jenkins answered the same way with 1.3 seconds to go, giving Zvezda a 6-point margin for the second leg.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014