Baskonia bounces back at home
TD Systems Baskonia returned to winning ways by downing Zalgiris Kaunas 81-68 at Buesa Arena on Friday. Baskonia improved to 10-13 to stop a four-game losing streak. Zalgiris dropped to 13-10 but remains in playoffs territory. Pierria Henry paced the winners with 19 points. Alec Peters added 15, Luca Vildoza had 14 and Tonye Jekiri 10 for Baskonia. Marius Grigonis led Zalgiris with 17 points. Thomas Walkup added 14 and Joffrey Lauvergne 12 for the guests. Baskonia led 21-20 after 10 minutes, extending its margin to 45-36 at halftime and then again to 61-48 at the end of the third quarter to keep full control of the game until the final buzzer.
Nigel Hayes, Grigonis and Walkup each hit a three-pointer to give Zalgiris an early 2-9 lead. Tadas Sedekerskis scored around the basket, Achille Polonara added a layup-plus-foul and Jekiri dunked to bring Baskonia within 9-11. Lauvergne scored down low and Walkup followed a backdoor layup with a triple to restore a 12-18 Zalgiris lead. Jekiri and Henry combined for all points in a 9-0 run that gave Baskonia its first lead, 21-18. Augustine Rubit scored down low to fix the score at 21-20 after 10 minutes. Martinas Geben took over with an alley-oop layup early in the second quarter, but Henry and Vildoza each struck from downtown in a 10-0 run that gave the hosts a 31-22 lead. Vildoza buried his third triple and Ilimane Diop soon made it a 13-point game, 39-26. Arturas Milaknis sank back-to-back three-pointers and Walkup added a floater and a layup to bring Zalgiris within 45-36 at halftime.
Lauvergne erased Jekiri's layup with an alley-oop dunk soon after the break. Grigonis hit a floater but Henry scored in penetration and fed Rokas Giedraitis for a fast break slam. Lauvergne and Zoran Dragic traded baskets, and Rokas Giedraitis banked in a floater that made the guests call timeout at 55-42. Hayes stepped up with a put-back layup and Lukas Lekavicius added a floater but Giedraitis and Peters kept their team way ahead, 61-48, after 30 minutes. Peters followed a jumper with a put-back basket early in the fourth quarter. Lauvergne answered with a power layup and Grigonis added a huge dunk-and-foul plus a floater to give Zalgiris hope at 65-55. Peters rescued the hosts with a corner triple but Grigonis got the guests even closer, 68-59. Polonara scored down low and Henry beat the shot clock buzzer with a rainbow jumper. Grigonis remained unstoppable, however, and Walkup scored off a steal for a 74-68 Zalgiris deficit with under 3 minutes left. But Henry held off the comeback with a tip-in and a three-pointer, which sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Alec Peters came off the bench and played a big role in Baskonia's win with an all-around performance. He finished the game with 15 points on 5-of-5 two-point shots and 2-of-2 free throws, adding 7 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal for a PIR of 23.
Martinas Geben gave Zalgiris its last lead, 21-22, early in the second quarter. Then Alec Peters hit free throws, Pierria Henry struck from downtown and Luca Vildoza followed a triple with a backdoor layup to give Baskonia a 31-22 margin, after a 10-0 run. Baskonia never looked back after that moment.
Zalgiris had as many as 20 turnovers, matching its season-worst performance - it also had 20 against FC Bayern Munich in Round 16. Baskonia limited its turnovers to just 11 and had as many as 12 steals, which allowed the hosts to keep great rhythm on offense.
Did you know?
Ilimane Diop finished the game with 4 blocks, matching his career-high effort. He previously had 4 blocks once in his 183-game EuroLeague career - in a 73-52 home win against Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul on December 9, 2016.
Zalgiris hosts Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on Thursday, February 4 at 19:00 CET. A day later, on Friday, February 5, Baskonia visits Real Madrid.
Friday, January 29, 2021