Zalgiris Kaunas has added its second win in as many games with a 58-81 road victory at London Towers that ruined the debut of home coach David Lindstrom. It looked like a home game for the Lithuanians with hordes of locals and travelling fans thronging Crystal Palace. They played like it, too, giving the London very little to cheer about. Donatas Slanina led Zalgiris with 18 points, but the collective effort by the visitors was superb. Tomas Masiulis registered a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, 11 of his points coming in the final quarter. Grygorij Hizjak added 15 points and Steve Woodberry 14 for the winners. Brett Eppehimer had 14 points to lead London. Zalgiris boosted its record to 2-5 and gave itself hope of keeping an eye on fourth place and a trip to the Top 16. London fell to 0-7 and gave Lindstrom a full look at the many things that need to be set right.
Played in a virtual home atmosphere for Zalgiris, with perhaps the entire Lithuanian population of London in attendance, the teams were level at 10-10 when Zalgiris launched its initial break, a 12-2 run with 5 points from Slanina. Free throws from Dainius Salenga, twos on the break from Masiulis and Salenga and then a three and a two from Slanina put Zalgiris in charge at 21-12.
Towers came storming back into the game at the start of the second quarter, with two threes from Terrell Myers and one from Silas Cheung sandwiching a Slanina three as the home side went on a 13-3 spurt. London capped it by taking the lead 27-26 on a Phil Hickey basket inside. Back came Zalgiris, however. Hiznjak and Vidas Ginevicius each had five points in a 13-4 tear. One problem for Zalgiris was that Hiznjak picked up a third foul on the stroke of half time. At the half Hiznjak had 11 points and Slanina 10 for Zalgiris, while Myers had 10 for Towers. Problem for Towers: their problem quarter, the third, was coming.
Woodberry blazed a three to start the second half and another, from Salenga, followed. Ginevicius had a fourth foul with 6:30 remaining to give Eppehimer a three-point play, but otherwise Zalgiris was able to watch Towers self-destruct. Kent and Hickey both missed a pair of free throws and Towers again committed numerous third-quarter turnovers which, for a change, did not cost them too dear. Still, they could only score four field goals in the quarter. Threes from Woodberry and Slanina piled on the agony, Eppehimer replied with a three of his own. From then on, it was green for go as Zalgiris, which ended th third quarter leading 45-59. In the last quarter, Masiulis ran the break superbly to score 11 points for himself and give assists to Woodberry and Hiznjak. There was no stopping him or Zalgiris now.
Thursday, December 6, 2001
Rob Dugdale, London