Record-breaking second-half defense sends Valencia to semis

Mar 09, 2019 by Print
Record-breaking second-half defense sends Valencia to semis

After a hard-fought Game 1, Rytas Vilnius and Valencia Basket met again at Siemens Arena on Friday. Rytas had survived its previous do-or-die situations - against Partizan NIS Belgrade in the Serbian capital and against AS Monaco in Vilnius, its last Top 16 games - but Valencia eventually proved to be too strong in Vilnius.

Even after losing starting playmaker Chris Kramer to a season-ending injury, Rytas was ready to fight, overcoming a slow start to get a six-point lead, 39-33, at halftime. But Valencia regrouped in the second half and ended up winning comfortably, 56-71, behind 18 points and 7 rebounds off the bench from Mike Tobey. Valencia managed to limit Rytas to very low shooting percentages, as the Lithuanian powerhouse hit just 42.9% of its shots inside the arc - 12-of-28 - and 26.9% from downtown - 7-of-26. Those numbers were especially low after the break: Rytas hit just 5-of-15 two-point shots (33.3%) and 1-of-13 from beyond the three-point line (7.7%).

It comes as no surprise that Valencia broke some defensive records at Siemens Arena, firstly by limiting Rytas to just 17 second-half points: the home team had never previously scored less than 26 points in a second half in 163 EuroCup games. It was also the second-lowest scoring second half in EuroCup playoffs history - CEZ Basketball Nymburk scored just 15 points after the break in a Quarterfinals game against Bilbao Basket on March 23, 2010.

Limiting Rytas to just 56 points is also unprecedented: it is the club's all-time lowest scoring mark in the competition, having only failed to reach the 60-point barrier twice in the past, scoring 59 against Benfica Lisbon on January 4, 2005 and against Bilbao Basket on March 10, 2009.

As such, Valencia used record-breaking defense to move on to the EuroCup semifinals for the eighth time in club history - a new all-time record. It advanced to the finals five times, downing Estudiantes in 2003, Panellinios in 2010, Rytas in 2012, Nizhny Novgorod in 2014 and Hapoel Jerusalem in 2017. Valencia also lost twice in the semifinals - against Rytas in 2005 and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in 2013 - and both teams went on to lift the trophy.

Valencia awaits its new opponent, as UNICS Kazan and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar will face each other next week for a spot in the semifinals. The winner will face Valencia in Game 1 at Pabellon Fuente de San Luis on Wednesday, March 19.