Zalgiris starts strong, thrashes Cedevita
Zalgiris Kaunas got off to a strong start in the 2012-13 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season by thrashing Cedevita Zagreb 90-62 in front of a sellout crowd of over 15,000 fans at Zalgirio Arena in Group C on Thursday. Paulius Jankunas led the winners with 20 points. Ksistof Lavrinovic added 17, Marko Popovic had 15 and 5 assists and Oliver Lafayette tallied 10 points for Zalgiris. Mickael Gelabale led Cedevita with 16 points while Bracey Wright added 15. A jumper by Gelabale gave Cedevita its last lead, 13-14, midway through the first quarter. Ksistof Lavrinovic and Jankunas shined right after that to give Zalgiris a 27-20 margin after 10 minutes. Popovic had 13 points in the second quarter and team defense allowed Zalgiris to break the game open, 55-38, at halftime. Nothing changed after the break, as Zalgiris boosted its margin to 79-53 after 30 minutes and cruised to a very important home win.
First quarter: run-and-gun show
Jankunas got Zalgiris going with a three-pointer and a fast break dunk by Luksa Andric kept Cedevita within 3-2. Zalgiris kept running its offense through an inspired Jankunas, whose three-point play gave his team a 6-2 lead. Gelabale answered from downtown but Lafayette quickly scored in transition. Andric found an easy basket in the paint and a three-pointer by Predrag Suput gave Cedevita its first lead, 8-9. Darjus Lavrinovic shined with an off-balance layup and Popovic added free throws but Wright single-handedly kept Cedevita ahead, 12-13. Jankunas took over with another layup-plus-foul and Darjus Lavrinovic bettered Gelabale's jumper with a three-pointer for a 18-15 score. Ksistof Lavrinovic and Jankunas sank free throws to force Cedevita to call timeout at 22-15, after a 7-0 run. Andric scored in penetration and Vlado Ilievski downed a triple to keep Cedevita within 24-20. Mario Delas buried a corner three-pointer to set the crowd on fire, 27-20, at the end of the first quarter.
Second quarter: Pop - oh! - vic
Ksistof Lavrinovic hit free throws early in the second quarter but Luka Babic bettered that with a three-pointer to get Cedevita within 29-23. Ksistof Lavrinovic insisted with a backdoor layup but Ilievski quickly sank a six-meter jumper. Zalgiris kept playing up-tempo at both ends. Popovic buried a shot from downtown and Ksistof Lavrinovic dunked it off a steal to make it a double-digit game, 36-25. Wright hit a close jumper but a red hot Popovic nailed back-to-back triples that broke the game open, 42-27, as the crowd went wild. Popovic scored again and fed Vytenis Lipkevicius for a reverse layup but Gelabale and Ivan Buva kept Cedevita within 46-32. Zalgiris had started to miss open shots and Cedevita kept going to the foul line often. Gelabale hit free throws but Rimas Kaukenas stepped up with a one-handed in the lane and a layup by Jankunas kept the hosts way ahead, 52-34. Wright followed free throws with a jumper but Popovic and Ksistof Lavrinovic allowed Zalgiris to reach halftime with a 55-38 margin.
Third quarter: Zalgiris keeps rolling
Ksistof Lavrinovic shined with a layup-plus-foul right after the break to give Zalgiris its first 20-point lead, 58-38, immediately after the break. Suput and Ksistof Lavrinovic traded layups but Andric scored again and Gelabale added a layup . An unstoppable Jankunas followed a put-back basket with a three-pointer from the top of the key for a 65-44 Zalgiris lead. Adas Juskevicius scored in transition and free throws by Kaukenas boosted the hosts' margin to 69-44. Wright tried to change things with a jumper and Ilievski nailed a triple to get Cedevita a bit closer, 71-49. Zalgiris struggled to score until Delas provided a highlight with an outstanding dunk. Lafayette added free throws and a three-point play by Darjus Lavrinovic gave Zalgiris a 79-51 lead. Cedevita could not find the way to the basket until Gelabale stepped up with a layup, but it only brought his team within 79-53 after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: hosts celebrate
Zalgiris started to use longer possessions to run the game clock down and Cedevita kept struggling against the hosts' outstanding defense. Both teams went scoreless for 2 minutes until Gelabale found a layup in transition. Kaukenas hit free throws, as Zalgiris sat out most of its starters once the outcome was sealed. Wright kept pacing Cedevita with a corner three-pointer but the guests entered the foul penalty with under 6 minutes left. Kaukenas insisted from the foul line and added a fast break basket for a 84-58 score. By the time Lafayette buried a three-pointer, everything was said and done already, as Zalgiris fans were already celebrating a convincing win. Meanwhile, Cedevita left the floor knowing it needs a quick turnaround to keep its Top 16 chances intact.
Thursday, October 11, 2012