Lietuvos Rytas gave its fans a major welcome to the 2007-08 Euroleague by dominating mighty Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv for a 92-74 victory in Group B in Vilnius, Lithuania on Thursday. L. Rytas remains in first place in Group B with a 2-0 record, while Maccabi dropped to 1-1. Arturas Jomantas led the winners with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Mindaugas Lukauskis added 16 points, Hollis Price had 15 while Kenan Barjamovic got 12 for L. Rytas. Will Bynum had 14 points for Maccabi while Nikola Vujcic added 12. L. Rytas used outstanding defense and the inspiration of Jomantas, Lukauskis and Bajramovic to get a 46-31 halftime lead. Maccabi did not manage to change things in the second half, as L. Rytas soon boosted its margin to 62-39 midway through the third quarter and managed to control the game until the final buzzer.
The first game of a new Euroleague season in Vilnius was greeted with ovations as Jomantas scored on a fastbreak to get the hosts on the board. He hit the game's second shot, too, and Maccabi stayed quiet until Vujcic scored inside and David Bluthenthal outside for a 4-4 tie. L. Rytas jumped ahead for good, however, as Lukauskis buried back-to-back triples to make it 10-4. Bluthenthal answered from the arc and Terrence Morris slammed to pull Maccabi within 10-9 halfway through the quarter, but the visitors couldn't stop the hosts on defense. Lukauskis and Hollis Price sparked a new 6-0 run to make it 18-11. Maccabi tried full-court man-to-man defense that led to Marcus Fizer scoring on the on the other end. Lukauskis stayed red-hot, however, drilling yet another triple, and by the time J.P.Batista had scored in the paint, L. Rytas closed the quarter up by 22-14.
Fizer opened the second quarter with a pair of baskets around one by Bajramovic for L. Rytas as the scoreboard showed 24-18. Fizer's third foul sent him to the bench, however, while Bajramovic stayed and continued to work hard, drawing Vujcic's second foul, too. Maccabi went to sleep on defense then as Jomantas and Darrel Mitchell spotted up for consecutive triples to open the first double-digit advantage, 31-20. The hosts kept rocking with Jomantas finishing a fastbreak, while things turned even worse for Maccabi after a timeout as Martynas Gecevicius joined the L. Rytas surge with a basket-plus-foul and L. Rytas led by 36-24. Vujcic kept feeding his teammates assists and scoring himself but L. Rytas continued a shooting barrage as Bajramovic and Mitchell pushed the margin to 44-28. Marijonas Petravicius showed his reboundind skills in the last minute of the half, grabbing 3 offensive rebounds before finishing an unbelievably long L. Rytas attack with free throws and fixing the score at 46-31 at halftime.
L. Rytas kept up the pressure after the break as Jomantas fed Matt Nielsen for a fastbreak dunk and dropped a three-pointer himself as the lead started turning insurmountable at 51-31. The visitors seemed hopeless on defense as 5 points by Price and Nielsen pushed the margin even further, 57-35. Big men Vujcic and Morris tried to change things by hitting in the paint but struggled on defense as Petravicius and Jomantas scored again to make it 62-39. The crowd went crazy now as Lukauskis beat the shotclock with a triple, forcing a Maccabi timout. The visitors still couldn't handle the L. Rytas' pick-n'-roll game as the hosts kept scoring for a crushing 68-41 advantage. Maccabi came back with a little 0-5 run as L. Rytas could not cope with tough halfcourt press but Jomantas helped L. Rytas remain resolutely in front at 72-53 after 30 minutes.
Derrick Sharp started the last quarter for Maccabi with a flashy penetration and Vujcic made a basket- plus-free throw to cut the difference to re shaken, 72-57. Maccabi worked hard on defense getting ready for a last storm. After Vonteego Cummings penetrated nicely, Maccabi was as close as 72-59 and L. Rytas, still without points in the fourth quarter, needed a timeout. Finally Lukauskis broke a minute of silence with an important triple but Cummings responded with a three-point play, 75- 62. Maccabi kept coming back patiently as Morris hit free throws but after Price nailed a three and Sharp travelled, the intrigue was killed. It all was over truly as Bajramovic dropped a difficult turnaround jumper for a decisive 80-64 lead. Efforts by Bynum were again denied by consecutive triples by Price and Lukauskis, 86-68, as L. Rytas headed firmly for team's second win this season.
Thursday, November 1, 2007