Laboral Kutxa lands in Top 16 after dropping L. Rytas
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria rallied in the second half behind its defense and two big runs to defeat Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 79-63 and clinch a Top 16 berth on Friday night. Laboral’s third consecutive win brings the team’s record to 5-3 for sole possession of third place in Group D. Rytas dropped to 1-7 and has been mathematically eliminated from the Top 16 race. Rytas finished the second quarter with a 2-14 spurt to take a 30-38 halftime lead, but the hosts started the second half with a 15-2 run and never trailed again. Laboral pulled away with a 14-0 spurt that bridged the third and fourth quarters for a 63-49 lead. Lamont Hamilton paced the winners with 17 points, Fernando San Emeterio netted 12, and Milko VBjelica scored 11 points for Laboral. Darius Songaila had 14 points for Rytas, while newcomer to the team Zabian Dowdell scored 10 points in defeat.
First quarter: Slim lead goes back and forth
Juan Palacios opened scoring with a fastbreak dunk, and as Rytas forced 4 turnovers in the first three minutes, Renaldas Seibutis scored on a breakaway to make it 0-6. Leo Mainoldi nailed a three-pointer to open Laboral's account, before a put-back from San Emeterio and a dunk from Tibor Pleiss made it 7-6. After a put-back from Songaila for the visitors, Pleiss scored a nifty reverse layup as the teams continued trading leads. Steponas Barbrauskas and Dowdell sank back-to-back jumpers for Rytas, before Pleiss made an alley-oop dunk, and Walter Hodge hit a jumper, 13-12. Keeping the basket-for-basket trend, Songaila hit a tough fadeaway shot, before Hamilton scored inside. Rytas took another lead with a basket-plus-free throw from Andreas Glyniadakis, but Hamilton answered with a triple just before the buzzer for an 18-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Second quarter: Rytas goes in front with 2-14 run
A three-pointer from Milenko Tepic started things for Rytas in the second quarter, but San Emeterio sank one from downtown on the other end, too. San Emeterio added a driving layup, but Martynas Gecevicius sank a long jumper for 23-24. A pair of free throws from Hamilton and a baseline jumper from Bjelica helped the hosts to their biggest lead, 28-24. Rytas answered with a 0-10 run. Songaila scored inside, and Gecevicius, Songaila and Dowdell all scored easy fastbreak layups. After a Laboral timeout, Thomas Huertel sank a jumper, but Palacios scored inside and Tepic made a baseline floater giving the visitors 30-38 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Laboral opens with 15-2 charge
Mainoldi hit back-to-back triples from the corner to start the third quarter just the way the hosts hoped. Songaila had a put-back for Rytas, but David Jelinek buried a baseline jumper and a three-pointer to make it 41-40. San Emeterio extended the run with a put-back basket that also had him reach the 1,000-point milestone for his Euroleague career, and Huertel followed with a fastbreak layup. The hosts mixed man-to-man with zone defense, and Rytas had trouble finding its offense, burning a pair of timeouts in the process. Songaila hit a long jumper to snap a 15-2 run, before trading buckets inside with Hamilton. Laboral’s big man also had a big dunk to make it 49-44, but Rytas countered with defensive aggressiveness and pressure, and making 5 of 6 free throws to tie the score. But Hodge answered with 4 from the foul line in the final 30 seconds of the quarter for a 53-49 lead after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Hosts pull away with 10-0 run
On the first possession of the fourth quarter, Bjelica made a no-look basket-plus-foul, and added a layup for a 58-49 cushion. Hodge added a cost-to-coast layup, before assisting Kelati on a wide-open triple and a 14-point lead. Dowdell snapped a 10-0 run with a layup and later added a jumper, but Laboral remained in control. Gecevicius scored from downtown, cutting it to 67-56 midway through the fourth, but Laboral’s defense did not allow much more than that, while a dunk from Bjelica and a long range shot from Hamilton extended it to 74-56, sealing the deal. Before the game’s end, Palacios scored for the visitors. Hamilton had an alley-oop dunk plus free throw, and Huertel drained a baseline jumper. Stevan Jelovac beat the buzzer with a layup to round out the scoring.
Friday, December 6, 2013