Antwerp shoots its way to first win
Telenet Giants Antwerp captured its first victory of the EuroCup season with an 86-77 win over visiting Lietkabelis Panevezys on Wednesday night at Lotto Arena. The hosts set a club record with 15 three-pointers in improving to 1-8 on the season. Speedy Smith led five Antwerp scorers in double figures with 23 points and 5 assists. Vrenz Bleijenbergh fired in 14 points, teenager Niels Van Den Eynde scored 13, Ibrahima Faye posted 12 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks and David Dudzinski added 11 points. Kyle Vinales paced Lietkabelis with 18 points, Gytis Masiulis and new signing Djordje Gagic netted 13 points apiece and Margiris Normantas had 12. The loss dropped Lietkabelis to 1-7.
Vinales took charge early with 8 points as the visitors stormed to a 2-12 lead. Smith helped Antwerp trim the deficit and the hosts finished the first quarter on a 7-0 run with a layup by Van Den Eynde, Faye free throws and a Bleijenbergh triple to even things at 16-16 after 10 minutes. Van Den Eynde sank a floater to start the second quarter to give Antwerp its first lead. Van Den Eynde knocked down a pair of threes, Bleijenbergh also connected from deep and Dudzinski did the same as the lead swelled to 30-20 midway through the second quarter. Masiulis's dunk-and-one triggered the Lietkabelis response, a 0-9 run capped by a three from Vytenis Lipkevicius. Dudzinski and Bleijenbergh countered with back-to-back threes for a 36-29 advantage. Gagic scored 4 quick points to keep Lietkabelis close. A three by Smith and layup by Jalen Jenkins lifted Antwerp to a 43-37 halftime advantage.
A three-point play by Normantas drew Lietkabelis within 1 early in the second half. Antwerp regrouped with 9 straight points from Dudzinski and Smith to restore a double-digit advantage, 52-42. Gagic battled inside to bring the visitors within 54-49. A three by Vinales further chopped up the deficit and Masiulis's put-back on the buzzer ended the third quarter with Antwerp holding a slim 61-58 lead. A three by Normantas made it a 2-point game, but Van Den Eynde came to Antwerp’s rescue with his third triple of the night. A three-point play by Gabrielius Maldunas and a layup by Valinskas tied the score at 66-66. Bleijenbergh pushed Antwerp back ahead and added a three for a 71-67 edge with 4 minutes remaining. Lietkabelis stayed close through free throws, however free throws by Smith with 1:45 remaining made it 78-73. The visitors bounced back again and Masiulis's layup-plus-foul would have tied it in the final minute, but he missed the resulting free throw. Vincent Kesteloot's steal led to a Stephaun Branch slam with 20 seconds remaining that made it 80-77. After a timeout, Vinales missed for Lietkabelis and Smith iced the game from the line.
Niels Van Den Eynde had scored a total of 4 points in 35 minutes in his first seven EuroCup performance, The 19-year-old made sure his eighth game would be one to remember. Called on with his team down 5 in the first quarter, Van Den Eynde sank a floater to start a 9-0 run that bridged the first and second quarter. His layup to end that run gave Antwerp its first lead, 18-16. He stayed hot with back-to-back threes to help Antwerp escape to a double-digit lead. Van Den Eynde added his third triple early in the fourth quarter to finish with 13 points in 20:26 played.
Antwerp's newest record
The hosts drilled a club record 15 three-pointers in the game with four players combining for most of the damage. Speedy Smith and Vrenz Bleijenbergh made 4 each and Niels Van Den Eynde and David Dudzinski made 3 apiece. Dennis Donkor also hit from downtown. The team shot 55.6% from behind the arc, which is also a club best.
Did you know?
The victory was Antwerp's first in the EuroCup since its regular-season finale in 2007-08 when it defeated Triumph Lyubertsy 82-74.
Both teams will play their Round 10 games on Wednesday, December 16. Antwerp will bid farewell to the 2019-20 EuroCup when it visits Virtus Segafredo Bologna. Lietkabelis hosts MoraBanc Andorra in a must-win fixture to stay alive in the Top 16 race. After that, Lietkabelis plays AS Monaco in a makeup game from Round 7 on December 18.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020