Lietuvos Rytas made both itself and its next opponent quite happy on Tuesday by waltzing past visiting Spirou Basket to a 77-56 home that served to clinch two Final Eight qualifying spots from Group L. The victory lifted L. Rytas to a 4-1 record and also certified that iurbential Bilbao of Spain, still playing its game, could do no worse than a second-place tie with a team it beat twice, Spirou, now 2-3. As such, L. Rytas and Bilbao will meet next week in Spain to decide which finishes first and second. On Tuesday, L. Rytas made no doubt about it while following point forward Chuck Eidson's lead to an easy triumph over the only team that had defeated it in this round. Eidson finished with 19 points and 10 assists for the winners. Milko Bjelica added 12, Arturas Jomantas 11 and Marijonas Petravicius 10. With an 11-0 run, L. Rytas jumped in front 13-5 to start the game and only let Spirou get as close as 7 points the rest of the way. The L. Rytas defense stopped everything Spirou tried, limiting top scorer Jerry Johnson to just 3 points after he scored his team's first 5. Jonathan Tabu matched Johnson, but otherwise L. Rytas plugged every possible scoring threat as soon as it happened to ensure a trip to the Final Eight starting April 2 in Turin, Italy.
Johnson gave Spirou a quick 2-5 lead on a triple and a layup before L. Rytas put the wraps on him while scoring the next 11 straight points, including triples by Mindaugas Lukauskis and Donatas Zavackas, who also added 3 points the hard way. After Eidson dunked to make it 13-5, Sacha Massot copied him to stop Spirou's slide, Bjelica took up the L. Rytas cause then, dominating the paint with 7 points in 3 minutes to put the hosts up 22-15 after one quarter. Bjelica kept going with the first basket of the second quarter before Tabu joined the scoring for Spirou with a pair of layups at 24-19. Jomantas answers with the same pair, however, before Petravicius ended a dry spell with a dunk for a double-digit advantage, 30-19. Wes Wilkinson helped Spiriou climb within 31-24, but another scoring run of 11-2 by L. Rtyas featured the same pair of triple-shooters who started the game, Zavackas and Lukauskis, supplying from long-distance the biggest lead yet, 42-26, at halftime.
Triples by Justin Hamilton and Matt Walsh got Spirou as close as 44-32 soon after the break. Eidson and Petravicius shared the next 5 points, however, and when the L. Rytas defense clamped down on their guests for several long minutes in the middle of the third quarter, Steponas Babrauskas brought out the big guns for the hosts. He drilled a killer pair of three-pointers that ballooned the difference to 57-38 at the end of 30 minutes. Eidson was drilled a triple early in the final quarter to make it 60-40, after which Spirou put together free throws and layups in a 2-8 run. Eidson put a stop to any comeback ideas with a fastbreak layup off a steal by Jomantas and his 10th assist, to Petravicius. He and Jomantas added back-to-back triples for good measure and a high lead of 74-50 that told the crowd in Vilnius - not to mention fans across the continent in Bilbao, Spain - to start booking tickets for Turin, Italy and the Final Eight!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009