Lietuvos Rytas remained undefeated by stopping Aris TT Bank 77-70
A battle for first place in Group B went down to the final minute before Lietuvos Rytas remained undefeated by stopping Aris TT Bank 77-70 at home in Vilnius, Lithuania on Wednesday. L. Rytas improves to 4-0 and stays alone at the top of the group. Aris is now 3-1 and will be tied with either Unicaja or Maccabi for second place after those teams play on Thursday. Marijonas Petravicius paced the winners with 22 points on 11-for-14 two-point shooting inside. Hollis Price added 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Chuck Eidson and Matt Neilson had 11 points each. For Aris, Jeremiah Massey drilled 19 points and Bracey Wright 12. Aris rallied from 16 points down at the start of the fourth quarter to almost steal the victory. Massey made an incredible three-pointer with 24 seconds left to beat the shot clock and get Aris within 69-68. Price went to the line for free throws at 21 seconds, but Giorgos Kalaitzis quickly got a layup for Aris to make it 71-70. After Neilsen added free throws, Terry's inbound pass against an L. Rytas press was stolen by Lukauskas, whose foul shots then sealed the victory.
L. Rytas got the game going as Nielsen challenged Massey in the paint for a difficult semi-hook. Aris soon responded as Dimitrios Tsaldaris cut the hosts' defense with a flashy penetration. L. Rytas used tough man-to-man defense and it paid off as Aris turned the ball over continuously. Price nailed 5 points in a row and Mindaugas Lukauskis scored again for an early 9-2 lead. A much-needed timeout didn't help Aris as the hosts kept pushing. Price hit a jumper just after Massey produced a massive block. After Marijonas Petravicius and Hanno Mottola exchanged baskets and Reyshawn Terry added a fastbreak jumper, Aris got a bit closer, but baskets by Lukauskis and Petravicius helped L. Rytas reach a double-digit advantage for the first time in the game, 18-8. After baskets by Massey, Bracey Wright and Simonas Serapinas for Aris and Nielsen and Price for L. Rytas, the hosts maintained a 10-point lead, 25-15, at the end of one quarter.
Petravicius started the second quarter with a difficult push-in and stayed tough on defense with Massey now on the bench. Chuck Eidson came on for L. Rytas and scored immediately for a 29-15 lead, but Wright answered with a basket-plus-foul. He missed the free-throw, though, and just-in Kenan Bajramovic took advantage by hitting a triple, 32-17. With L. Rytas'starting five on the bench, Aris finally came back with a 0-7 run as Lazaros Agadakos and Serapinas both scored to make it 32-23. A timeout didn't help the hosts as Aris kept coming back with Agadakos's free throw and Terry tipping in a miss at 32-26. L. Rytas seemed to have lost its rhythm, but soon Nielsen broke the silence and Eidson added a free throw, and now Aris needed a timeout. The guests couldn't handle a brilliant half-court press by L. Rytas as Eidson and Bajramovic widened the margin to 39-26. Efforts by Massey helped Aris to reduce distance, but L. Rytas was still up 42-31 as the teams went to the lockers for halftime.
Massey stayed hot after the intermission, hitting a shot over Nielsen. After Terrel Castle nailed a triple, Aris was back in the game at 42-36. After a long rest, Petravicius stepped up in the paint after a nice dish by Arturas Jomantas. Nielsen added a three-pointer and rebuilt an 11-point lead for the hosts. When Price converted another one from beyond the arc, it seemed L. Rytas was in full control at 50-36. But Terry responded with his own triple and Massey produced a beautiful basket-plus-free throw to make it 50-41. L. Rytas tried to run away but could not because of turnovers. Petravicius did everything he could, scoring 4 points in a row, but Terry and Wright matched him as the score hit 54-45. Nielsen proved to be a great playmaker in the last minute, feeding Petravicius for a pair of massive dunks. After Eidson buried a three-pointer, L. Rytas was holding a 61-47 lead after 30 minutes.
Petravicius opened the final quarter with his 20th point and then converted another nice dish by Price and forced Aris' timeout, 65-47. Massey responded with 4 points while Kalaitzis added a triple and Aris came back within 65-54. The hosts kept missing, which made the crowd anxious, but they patiently worked on defense, forcing an offensive foul by Castle with 5 minutes to go. Aris didn't give up as Massey pushed in a fantastic basket-plus-free throw that cut the margin to 8 points, 65-57. Tsaldaris stole and scored to complete a 0-12 Aris run, but then missed an important triple opportunity to cut the lead further, while Jomantas converted free throws for L. Rytas. Wright brought Aris even closer as the visitors chose to foul and shoot triples. It paid off as, even when Jomantas kept his cool at the line, Tsaldaris hit a triple and Massey surprised everyone by stepping out to the corner for his, which fell with 24 seconds left to make it 69-68. Price was fouled and dropped both free throws, and though Aris needed 3 points to tie, Kalaitzis chose a penetration to make it 71-70. The next Aris foul put Nielsen on the line, where he downed both shots. When Terry's inbounds pass ended up in the hands of Lukauskis, L. Rytas had the win and sole possession of first place in Group B.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007