2006-07QuarterfinalsGame 2
March 06, 2007 CET: 17:45
Local time: 18:45 SIEMENS ARENA

Lietuvos Rytas downing Strasbourg 72-56

Former ULEB Cup champion Lietuvos Rytas rallied in the final minutes to sieze a spot in the semifinals by downing Strasbourg 72-56 in thrilling fashion at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Tuesday to win their two-game quarterfinal series. L. Rytas overcame a 13-point deficit from the first leg in Strasbourg and reached its second semifinal round in three ULEB Cup appearances. Marijonas Petravicius and Kareem Rush led the winners with 11 points, but Roberts Stelmahers became the hero and for L. Rytas in the final 3 minutes. Chuck Eidson had 15 points for Strasbourg while Afik Nissim added 13. A short jumper by Eidson brought Strasbourg within 57-52 with less than 3 minutes to go. Three-pointers by Mindaugas Lukauskis, Rush and Stelmahers brought L. Rytas back to life at 66-54. Stelmahers fed Petravicius for an easy basket and soon hit a free throw for a 71-54 margin. The game went down to the wire, as Tomas Delininkaitis hit a free throw that hit the rim, went up and fell down, while Nissim missed a three-pointer that would have tied the series at the buzzer.

L. Rytas started the game with a turnover that Michael Smith converted for a Strasbourg basket. Jomantas soon got the hosts on the scoreboard with a three-point play. Strasbourg found early trouble as Eidson picked up his second foul with just 2 minutes gone and was benched immediately. L. Rytas kept running fast and following Petravicius to a 9-4 lead. Aerick Sanders and Smith stepped up for Strasbourg with 4 points as the game and the crowd eased a bit. The visitors got their first lead as Smith made free throws for a 9-10 score, but L. Rytas took it back with power when Stelmahers, Rush and Arturas Jomantas initiated a 7-0 run to make it 16-10. Strasbourg tried to stay close but a hot Jomantas kept holding L. Rytas ahead, by 20-15 after one quarter.

Eidson started the second quarter with a free throw as injured big man Dirk Madrich was walked off the court. L. Rytas couldn't find a way to finish inside and unsuccesfully tried its luck from downtown until finally, a fresh Delininkaitis came in to drop one from outside. When Andrius Slezas added another bomb, the crowd went wild because L. Rytas needed only 4 points to win the series by then. A timeout didn't help Strasbourg, as Joao Paolo Batista and Slezas scored consecutively to make it 30-16. Afik Nissim and Eidson answered with layups, but Lukauskis drained a triple and kept the hosts' lead healthy at 33-20. Eidson and Nissim scored again to cut the difference to 9 points, but Batista converted a tricky inbound pass and Matthew Nielsen dropped a triple to boost L. Rytas again by 38-24. Nissim saw his free throws matched Batista scored again as L. Rytas sat firmly on the driver's seat, 40-26, at intermission.

Nielsen opened the third quarter with a triple as Eidson answered with a difficult layup, 43-28. L. Rytas wanted to kill the intrigue early but Strasbourg didn't give up as Nissim buried a triple and Sanders hit a semihook at 44-33. The hosts didn't fall asleep, either, as Rush and Petravicius widened the gap to 51-33. Strasbourg needed help now, and got some as Gauthier Darrigand and Eidson stepped up with 7 points that made it 51-40 as L. Rytas stalled on the offensive end. The visitors finally seemed alive as Darrigand and Eidson scored again and cut the margin to 54-46 entering the last 10 minutes.

Darrigand opened the last quarter with an important triple that made it 54-49, setting the stage for a down-to-the-wire battle. L. Rytas had many open shots in a span of 4 minutes but missed all of them. Rush broke the silence with a penetration that kept the hosts ahead 56-50 on the scoreboard but behind by 7 in the series. Strasbourg continued playing great defense in the paint and neutralized all of the L. Rytas efforts. Eidson provided offense, too, as L. Rytas, needing a 14-point win, led only by 5 with 3 minutes on the clock. That all changed in a hurry, as Lukauskis and Rush suddenly buried back-to-back triples for a double-digit difference, 63-52. Nissim hit a fade-away jumper to calm Strasbourg but Stelmahers answered with another from downtown. When Petravicius added a three-point play, L. Rytas had 12 points in four possessions and a 68-54 lead, a point more than needed for the series win. Petravicius blocked Sanders on his next shot attempt and Slezas stepped up with free throws for a 70-54 board with 43 seconds to go as the crowd tried for noise records at Siemens arena. Strasbourg needed a triple but, instead, Smith threw up an airball and the visitors needed to foul. Stelmahers hit a free throw at 71-54. Nissim stepped to the line next, made both and then fouled Delininkaitis immediately. He missed his first free throw, and the second bounced up before going in. Strasbourg was left with one chance to tie the series, but Nissim's three-point try missed and L. Rytas kept alive the dream of being the ULEB Cup's first two-time champ.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Gintaras Radauskas, Vilnius
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Attendance: 11000
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Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 RUSH, KAREEM LAMAR 24:15 11 1/5 3/7   2   2   2     1 2   4
5 SLEZAS, ANDRIUS 16:15 7 1/2 1/3 2/2 2 3 5     1       1 9
7 STELMAHERS, ROBERTS 28:15 7 1/4 1/6 2/4 1 1 2 7         5 2 3
8 LUKAUSKIS, MINDAUGAS 19:45 6 0/3 2/3   1 3 4 1 2 1     1 1 8
9 DELININKAITIS, TOMAS 11:30 4   1/3 1/2   1 1   1 1     1 2 3
10 KOLJEVIC, IVAN 7:30 3 1/1 0/1 1/2       2           1 4
11 ZUKAUSKAS, EURELIJUS 7:45   0/1     1 2 3     1     2   -1
13 BATISTA, J.P. 9:30 6 3/3     1   1           1   6
15 PETRAVICIUS, MARIUS 21:45 11 3/6   5/9 5 2 7   1 2 1   3 6 14
21 JOMANTAS, ARTURAS 25:00 9 3/5 0/1 3/3 2 2 4 2 5 1   1 4 5 16
44 NIELSEN, MATT 24:45 8 1/5 2/4   1 3 4 1   2     4 1 2
45 BLUMS, JANIS 3:45     0/1     1 1             1 1
Team           3 2 5   6           11
Totals 200:00 72 14/35 10/29 14/22 19 20 39 13 17 9 1 2 23 20 80
        40% 34.5% 63.6%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
5 DARRIGAND, GAUTHIER 22:15 9 2/3 1/1 2/2   1 1   2 3     2 3 9
7 MARQUIS, CLAUDE 21:00 2 1/2     1   1 1   3     1   -1
8 SANDERS, AERICK 35:00 3 1/1   1/2   5 5 1   1 1 1 5 3 5
9 SMITH, MICHAEL 20:45 7   1/4 4/5   4 4     1     1 3 8
10 GIFFA, SACHA 18:30   0/2 0/1     1 1   2 1     3 1 -3
11 NISSIM, AFIK 25:15 13 2/4 1/6 6/6   3 3     1     3 5 10
12 McCORD, JOHN 29:30 7 2/3   3/3 1 8 9   1 2     1 3 16
13 EIDSON, CHUCK 26:00 15 5/7 0/2 5/8   2 2 1   5 1   4 5 8
15 MADRICH, DIRK 1:45   0/2       1 1               -1
16 YAICI, BOUDJI DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Team             2 2   4           6
Totals 200:00 56 13/24 3/14 21/26 2 27 29 3 9 17 2 1 20 23 57
        54.2% 21.4% 80.8%
Head coach: GIRARD, ERIC
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Head Coaches

Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius
“As I said before the series, there are no easy opponents in this stage of the competition. There's an easy road and a hard one. We chose the latter. The first half of the game in Strasbourg didn't match our level of basketball. We had planned to play differently during practice. We are lucky that the gap between two games was only a week because in Strasbourg I saw that some of our players wanted to run to the court again and get revenge right away. We had a good tryout in Kaunas on Saturday in a game against Zalgiris, because we proved to be a good team, better than everyone saw in Strasbourg. We did two important things tonight. We played great defense almost all game and we rebounded really well. Besides, I think this was the first time that we committed less than 10 turnovers. I really want to thank our fans. It felt like we had an extra player on the court. We are lucky because we have 13 guys who all can play well. As soon as players understand this is our main strength, we will be really tough. Our team has huge potential.”
“I want to congratulate Lietuvos Rytas for advancing to the next round. Good luck for them. We did everything we could and fought until the very end, but these two games here in Vilnius and back in Strasbourg were totally different. We lost Lonnie Cooper two weeks ago and found no replacement for him. Besides, Chuck Eidson was sick and didn't show his best on the court. It was hard but we lost only by few points. I hope Lietuvos Rytas gets to the final. It always feels great to play in a full gym. Fans supported their team first, but they showed respect for us too.”


Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius
“It was a hard game but, step by step, we have reached our goal. Of course, we stopped a bit in th fourth quarter. I don't even know what happened, but we started to play individually. What we needed to do was to play our usual team ball. All our attempts flew wide. We are so happy here in the locker room. The feeling is great. The crowd was simply fabulous tonight. I doubt if there was a single free seat out here. We could see our fans wanted so much us to win. They screamed like crazy on every attack, so a huge thanks to them.”
“I think we should really be disappointed because we had the game. With 4 minutes to go, we trailed only by 6. That meant we led by 7 in the series. We needed to take this one. But Lietuvos Rytas hit three triples in a row and took the lead for good. It is very disappointing because our team could have made history by qualifying for the ULEB Cup semifinals for the first time. We couldn't do it. We played not bad, but not good enough to seal the series. We were trailing by as much as 18 game. We led by 23 back in Strasbourg. Both teams are that good.”
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