Lietuvos Rytas made it to the Last 16 round by downing Kalise Gran Canaria 74-64 in Vilnius, Lithuania in Group E on Tuesday night. Lietuvos Rytas finished second in Group E with a 3-3 record and advanced to the next round due to its tie-break advantage against Asvel Basket. Meanwhile, Gran Canaria was fourth with a 2-4 record. Mindaugas Lukauskis paced the winners with 19 points on 5-for-12 three-pointers. Milko Bjelica posted a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, Branko Milisavljevic added 14 points while Arturas Jomantas had 13 for L. Rytas. Carl English led Gran Canaria with 15 points while Daniel Kickert added 13 for the guests, that led 38-41. Lukauskis helped L. Rytas to get the lead for good right after the break. Gran Canaria stayed in the game until the final minute, when a three-pointer by Kickert brought the guests within 68-64. Free throw accuracy in crunch time allowed L. Rytas to make it to the next round.
Gran Canaria dominated the game in the opening minutes and soon managed to get a 8-9 edge. Marijonas Petravicius and Lukauskis stepped up to make L. Rytas get a 13-9 lead. The hosts, however, kept struggling against Gran Canaria's strong defense. The guests stayed in the game through an outstanding English, but Bjelica shined with a three-point play and another basket by Jomantas allowed L. Rytas to get a 23-17 edge at the end of the first quarter. Petravicius soon picked up his third foul and Gran Canaria took advantage of that, getting within 25-23 early in the second period. Marcus Norris, Kickert and English fueled a 0-9 run that allowed Gran Canaria to get back the lead, 36-41, late in the first half. Free throws by Eidson helped L. Rytas to get within 38-41 at halftime.
L. Rytas returned to the floor with an improved mentality, not allowing any easy shots now. Meanwhile, Bjelica and Lukauskis stepped up, leading an 11-3 run that put the hosts back ahead, 47-44. Kalise tried to get English and Melvin Sanders involved without much success now, but Kickert and Josh Fisher kept the guests in the game. Lukauskis kept pacing L. Rytas to keep the hosts ahead, 55-52, at the end of the third quarter. Sitapha Savane and Kickert still kept Gran Canaria in the game, as all fans at Siemens Arena had already started to wonder. Jomantas and Bjelica soon stepped up to make it a double-digit game, 62-52, midway through the fourth period. Chuck Eidson provided a highlight with an outstanding dunk coming off the baseline but Gran Canaria did not panic and managed to get back in the game, 68-64, on a three-pointer by Kickert. The guests went scoreless in the final minute, however, as Eidson and Milisavljevic helped L. Rytas to seal the outcome and make it to the next round.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009