Valencia downs Rytas in Game 1
Valencia Basket struck first in the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals by topping Rytas Vilnius 75-64 at home on Tuesday. Valencia took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three playoffs series, which now moves to the Lithuanian capital for Game 2 on Friday. Matt Thomas led the winners with 15 points and Fernando San Emeterio, Alberto Abalde and Aaron Doornekamp each scored 10 for Valencia. D.J. Seeley and Deividas Sirvydis paced Rytas with 11 points apiece and Art Parakhouski and Mindaugas Girdziunas each had 10 for the visitors, which led 12-20 after 10 minutes. Valencia rallied in the second quarter, but Seeley gave Rytas a 26-30 edge at the break. Everything changed after that, as Matt Thomas helped Valencia to a 48-43 margin after 30 minutes and the hosts pulled away to 70-52 and never looked back.
Eimantas Bendzius got Rytas going with a triple and Chris Kramer added a driving layup for a 0-5 lead. San Emeterio stepped up with a three-point play and Mike Tobey added a three-pointer that gave Valencia its first lead, 6-5. Parakouski scored down low and erased Joan Sastre's layup with a jump hook. Abalde downed a turnaround jumper, but Seeley struck from downtown and Bendzius hit free throws in an 0-8 run that Martynas Echodas capped with a put-back layup that prompted Valencia to call timeout at 10-17. A layup by Doornekamp and a three-pointer by Sirvydis fixed the score at 12-20 after 10 minutes. Tobey rescued Valencia with a put-back layup early in the second quarter, igniting an 8-0 run in which Doornekamp and Matt Thomas each struck from beyond the arc to tie it at 20-20. Parakhouski dunked, but Guillem Vives and Abalde did better with back-to-back three-pointers. Parakhouski kept pushing Rytas with a layup and Mindaugas Girdziunas hit a triple before Kramer left the game with a knee injury. A free throw by Echodas and a buzzer-beating jumper by Seeley gave the visitors a 26-30 edge at halftime. San Emeterio and Sam Van Rossom buried back-to-back jumpers for a 30-30 tie soon after the break. Parakhouski stepped up with a put-back layup only to see San Emeterio erase it with a jumper. Louis Labeyrie dunked before Rytas called timeout at 34-32. Rok Stipcevic, Vives and Arnas Butkevicius buried respective three-pointers, but a jumper by Matt Thomas gave Valencia a 39-38 edge. Will Thomas scored in the low post and followed Labeyrie's alley-oop layup with free throws. Matt Thomas downed a jumper, however, free throws by Sirvydis kept Rytas within 48-43 after 30 minutes. Vives scored in penetration early in the fourth quarter, but Sirvydis did better with a triple. Matt Thomas answered from downtown and added a dunk for a 55-46 cushion. Seeley nailed a three-pointer, but a red-hot Matt Thomas answered from beyond the arc and Will Thomas added a tip-in that broke the game open, 60-49. A wild three-point play by San Emeterio and a fastbreak layup by Van Rossom sealed the outcome, 70-52, as Rytas never recovered.
Matt Thomas provided the fireworks that Valencia needed to win the game. He had 12 of his 15 points in the final 14 minutes, allowing Valencia to get a good-as-gold win. He added 2 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and 2 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 16.
With the game tied at 40-40, Will Thomas and Matt Thomas fueled an 8-1 run highlighted by Labeyrie's alley-oop layup. All of a sudden, Valencia had a 48-41 lead late in the third quarter, inspiring the hosts to seal the outcome in the final 10 minutes.
Valencia hit 5 of 14 two-point shots (35.7%) and 5 of 21 from downtown (23.8%) before halftime. It did much better after the break, downing 13 of 24 shots inside the arc (54.2%) and 5 of 12 from three-point range (41.7%). A more balanced offense led to a comfortable win.
Did you notice?
Valencia became the first club to reach 200 games in the EuroCup. The Spanish powerhouse is in its 12th EuroCup season and won the title in 2003, 2010 and 2014. This was its 149th win in the competition. Valencia has lost 50 times and tied once - 85-85 against Joventut Badalona on February 8, 2005.
These teams face each other in Game 2 of this best-of-three playoffs series at Siemens Arena in the Lithuanian capital on Friday at 18:00 CET.
Tuesday, March 5, 2019