Last year's continental champions Lietuvos Rytas led from start to finish to down arch rivals Zaligirs Kaunas 100-81 and win the Siauliai Nike International Junior Tournament. Rytas picked up the trophy by wining its last three games, while this turns out to be the lone loss for Zalgiris in the tourney. Lietuvos Rytas opened the title game with a 14-1 run and with some stiff defense and good ball movement on offense, maintained the double-digit lead throughout the first half. After the break, Zalgiris cut it to 59-48 midway through the third quarter, and came within 78-70 after scoring 12 unanswered points in the fourth, but could not come closer than that. Tournament MVP Edvinas Seskus led Rytas with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists, while Gediminas Zalalis had 25 points and 8 rebounds in victory. Lukas Motiejunas chipped in with 16 for Rytas which joins KK Spars Sarajevo, winner of Torneo Citta di Roma, and FIATC Joventut Badalona of Spain, winner of the Ciutat de L'Hospitalet tourney, as the first three teams qualified to the NIJT finals in London from May 9 to 13, running parallel to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four! Ernestas Serkavicius scored 16 for Zalgiris. Haroldas Saprykinas and Lukas Aukstikalnis each netted 13, and Lukas Grabuskas finished with 12 in defeat.
Rytas stormed out of the gate with Zalalis scoring 8 points in the opening 14-1 run, and lead reached 20-3 with a three-pointer from Seskus. Zalgiris got things going with Paulius Zalys scoring inside, while Saprykinas and Aukstikalnis hit jumpers, but Rytas still led 29-13 after the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, with three-pointers on consecutive possessions from Motiejunas, Seskus, and Lukas Ganas margin reached 49-27 before Aukstikalnis and Grabuskas cut it for 51-34 at the break. Lead was back up to 20 points in the third quarter with a triple from Rytis Pipiras, but Zalgiris cut it to 59-48 midway through the third quarter with two three-pointer each from Paulius Danisevicius and Saprykinas. However, Motiejunas answered with a three-pointer, Zalalis basket-plus-foul raised the margin to 17 points, and a triple-plus-foul from Seskus made it 73-53 at the start of the fourth quarter. With Aukstikalnis and Serkavicius hitting shots from downtown, Zalgiris scored 12 unanswered points that cut the deficit to 78-70, but Zalalis scored 7 points as Rytas extended the margin to 91-77 and sealed the deal.
Saturday, January 26, 2013