Lietuvos Rytas defeated Sluc Nancy 80-74 on Tuesday in a close game at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania, to break a tie for first place in Group A. Andrius Slezas sparked a 10-0 fourth quarter run with 5 straight points that gave the hosts the lead for good and Matt Nielsen and Joao Paulo Batista stepped up down the stretch to lead L. Rytas to a 5-2 record. L. Rytas takes a half-game lead over Hemofarm Vrsac, which visited Gran Canaria later Tuesday. Nancy dropped to 4-3. Batista led L. Rytas with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Slezas added 12 and Nielsen 11. Tariq Kirksay led Nancy with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals, while Branko Milisavljevic added 14, Daniel McClintock 13 and Maxime Zianveni and Cyril Julian had 10 each. Julian also had 13 rebounds. The game was close throughout, with Nancy leading by 4 at halftime and 2 after three quarters. After L. Rytas's 10-0 run made in 69-63, Nancy closed the gap to 2 a number of times and trailed 76-74 with a minute left. However Janis Blums was successful from the line and Milisavljevic missed a jumper, allowing the home fans to celebrate.
McClintock got the game going with a baby hook and Milisavljevic followed with a mid-range jumper to build an early 0-4 lead for Nancy. Roberts Stelmahers answered with 5 straight points, but McClintock put the visitors ahead 5-8. L. Rytas intensified its defense, a move that paid off as Andre Emmet and Nielsen put the hosts in front. After a sloppy spell, McClintock and Kirksay tried to initiate a run with a pair of jumpers but Batista rose from the bench and kept L. Rytas close. The game turned into a personal battle between Batista and Kirksay at the end of the quarter as the hosts grabbed a 25-24 lead via a Batista layup. Zianveni started the second quarter for Nancy with a turnaround jumper, while the hosts looked lost on offense. Mindaugas Lukauskis finally landed a bomb from outside, but Julian stepped up with a layup and put Nancy ahead once more. Lukauskis fed Slezas for an easy layup and Batista outplayed Julian to bring the joy back to Siemens Arena. Kirksay tried to stop the hosts but a fresh Titus Ivory drained a triple for a 35-32 lead. A pair of jumpers from Zianveni helped Nancy regain the lead again as it switched to a tough man-to-man defense that confused the visitors and led to mistakes. Milisavljevic and McClintock added jumpers to finish a 0-8 run that made it 37-43. points by Nielsen and Marijonas Petravicius brought the hosts closer before Milisavljevic converted two free throws to finish the first half with the score fixed at 41-45 for Nancy.
Missed shots and turnovers marked the start of the third quarter, but Nancy was first to wake up as McClintock hit a mid-range jumper and Kirksay added a layup to widen the gap to 41-49. Emmet stepped up with a fastbreak basket, but after that turned the ball over twice as Kirksay made him pay for mistakes by boosting Nancy's lead to 43-52. With the injured Stelmahers on the bench, Tomas Delininkaitis seemed the only one on L. Rytas keen to break the tough Nancy defense by hitting two free throws. Zianmeni gave Nancy a 45-55 on the break, but Lukauskis drove for a hard layup and Blums landed a triple to cut Nancy's lead in half. Slezas added another bomb from downtown to bring L. Rytas even closer, but Nancy held on for a 59-61 advantage after 30 minutes. Kirksay opened the last quarter with a difficult layup, but Slezas did the same thing. His turnaround jumper and triple and put L. Rytas ahead 64-63 and after Kirksay missed from the line, Batista finished inside off a nice pick'n'roll move with Ivory. After a Nancy timeout, Ivory hit a triple to cap a 10-0 run. Julian stepped up with a jumper midway through the last quarter and kept Nancy close with two free throws, trimming the gap to 72-70 but Arturas Jomantas scored on a put-back to rebuild a 4-point lead. Kirksay made only one from the line, as did Victor Samnick before Nielsen and Kirksay exchanged jumpers, 76-74 with only 1 minute to go. Blums went to the line on a crucial Lietuvos Rytas attack and didn't miss. Milisavljevic did and Nielsen finished the game with an open layup, 80-74.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006