UNICS tops Rytas, stays perfect
UNICS Kazan overcame missing players to defeat visiting Lietuvos Rytas 86-73 to stay unbeaten at 2-0 in Group D on Wednesday. Rytas fell to 1-1. Jamar Smith had 19 points and Maksim Sheleketo 15 for the winners. Trent Locket combined 13 with 9 rebounds and 4 steals while Pierria Henry scored 10 and dished 9 assists. Teenager Deividas Sirvydis led Rytas with 17 points, while Dominique Sutton added 14, Eimantas Bendzius 12 and Martynas Echodas 10. UNICS was without Anton Ponkrashov, Raymar Morgan and Melvin Ejim due to injuries. Smith had 4 points and Sheleketo his first 3 as UNICS started 11-6. Rytas soon gained a 19-20 edge after one quarter on 8 points from Echodas. Ties and lead changes filled the second quarter as the defenses held sway. Neither team could escape until Lockett's 8 points and Sheleketo's second triple suddenly made it 41-32 at the half. Sheleketo's four-point play helped boost the difference to 47-34 before Sirvydis caught fire with 7 quick points, Echodas downed a hook and Bendzius drained a triple at 50-49. Triples by Kostas Kaimakoglou and Errick McCollum ended the threat, but Sirvydis made his own for a 58-52 score after 30 minutes. Sirvydis dropped 5 more points to start the final quarter, but Smith was just as hot. When Sheleketo joined him with 5 more points and Henry scored in close, it was 72-60, and the hosts were on their way to victory.
BEAT GOES ON
Former EuroCup champ Jamar Smith extended his consecutive run of three-pointers made to 38 games. That ties him for second behind the all-time leader, Kyle Kuric, with 41. Smith's tie at 38 is with a EuroCup standard-bearer from last decade, Todor Stoykov, who is now retired. Since Kuric is in the EuroLeague with FC Barcelona Lassa, Smith could attain a record streak during the regular season.
BORN IN THE 2000s
As Rytas tried to come back, it was 18-year-old swingman Deividas Sirvydis who had the hot hand, scoring all but 1 of his 17 points in the second half. His foul shot in the first half was his first EuroCup point despite a pair of brief appearances last season, which he finished as 2018 Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament champion and Finals MVP with Rytas's U18 team.
LOCKETT 'EM UP
Despite injuries to Ejim and Morgan, plus foul trouble that limited Maurice Ndour, the Round 1 MVP, to 15 minutes, UNICS won the battle of the boards, 34-24, including 12 offensive rebounds. Two perimeter players were the big reason, as 1.96-meter Trent Lockett pulled a game-high 9 boards and 1.93 Pierria Henry had 7. Lockett also had 4 steals, more than all the Rytas players combined.
Going 4 for 4 from downtown with a four-point play and exquisite timing, Maksim Sheleketo frustrated Rytas over and over in this game. In his fourth EuroCup season and 44th appearance, it amounted to a career-high 15 points for the 2.05-meter big man.
UNICS returns to the road to face Fiat Turin, a team it beat twice last season, in Round 3. Rytas will try to regroup at home in Vilnius with 1-1 Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt as its guest.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018