A burst of help from the bench lifted Lietuvos Rytas to its first home victory ever in the Euroleague as it shook off visiting Olympiacos by a 78-67 score in Group B on Wednesday. It was the second consecutive win for L. Rytas, now 2-2 despite playing without injured starter Fred House. Olympiacos saw its record fall to 1-3. L. Rytas got both scoring and assists from the bench to break open early in the fourth quarter what had been a close game throughout the previous 30 minutes. Reserves Haris Mujezinovic and Mindaugas Lukauskis led the winners with 13 and 12 points, respectively, while another sub, guard Sandis Buskevics, scored all 7 of his in the last quarter. His pair of three-pointers and one each by Andrius Slezas and Tomas Delininkaitis filled a 12-2 run to start the final quarter and seal the outcome. L. Rytas enjoyed a 40-22 edge in bench scoring and an 18-6 edge in assists. Olympiacos got 12 points from Tyus Edney, 11 each from Nikos Barlos and Andrija Zizic, who doubled up with 10 rebounds.
L. Rytas got on the scoreboard first with a high-post shot by Nielsen, but Stelmahers was called for an intentional foul, letting Edney get the first point for Olympiacos. Barlos soon put the Reds ahead with a jumper and fastbreak dunk, but Stelmahers was already getting hot. His second basket was a triple from the arc that took back the lead for L. Rytas at 9-8, although Edney answered by driving for a flashy layup to take it back for Olympiacos. L. Rytas struggled defensively, collected 5 team fouls in as many minutes, then getting punished as Barlos buried back-to-back triples that boosted the Olympiacos lead to 11-17. The hosts seemed one step behind and Quincy Lewis, whose turnaround jumper to make it 14-21, but L. Rytas looked inside to Javtokas and Haris Mujezinovic, who collected their second baskets each to cut the difference to 18-21 after 10 minutes.
Edney and Sofoklis Schortsianitis scored to widen the visitors' lead to 18-25 early in the second quarter, then the resident Lithuanian on Olympiacos, Renaldas Seibutis, hit his first shot. But that came between triples by Tomas Delininkaitis and Mindaugas Lukauskis of L. Rytas, and those shots signalled a resurgence. Nielsen picking up his third foul didn't help the hosts, but Schortsianitis missed the foul shot that came with his basket, while Stelmahers made good on his three-point basket-plus-free throw. When Mujezinovic followed with a semi-hook, the score was tied 29-29 after 14 minutes. With Javtokas on the bench, Schortsianitis made free throw and pulled an offensive rebound that Panagiotis Vasilopoulos converted for an easy basket. L. Rytas answered with fullcourt pressure that forced Olympiacos turnovers and let Andrius Slezas put the hosts ahead 33-32 on a corner shot. Schortsianitis again responded for the Reds, but then Javtokas returned to dominate the last minutes with a jumper and a dunk as L. Rytas pulled into halftime leading 39-34.
Edney continued his impressive performance with a basket-plus-free throw in a quick 0-4 run after halftime by Olympiacos. Free throws by Simas Jasaitis got L. Rytas going again, but Javtokas hit the bench soon with his fourth foul. When Andrija Zizic hit 2 free throws and Manolis Papamakarios a triple, Olympiacos was suddenly ahead again, 41-43. The L. Rytas scorers stalled against the visitors' intensive man-on-man defense. Meanwhile, Quincy Lewis and Zizic hit baskets to complete a 2-14 run that had the Reds in charge, 41-48, midway through the third quarter. With 5 consecutive points, Mujezinovic and Andrius Slezas cut the margin to 47-50. A run-and-shoot pace finally favored the hosts as Lukauskis joined in with a fastbreak layup and a three-point play to finish a 15-4 L. Rytas run that took back a 56-52 lead. Edney saved a triple and a fastbreak layup for the end of the quarter, but Jasaitis was able to help L. Rytas hang onto a 60-59 edge.
There was no warning for the Reds of what was about to hit them at the start of the final quarter. Four subs took floor for L. Rytas, and in the next 5 minutes, three of them nailed 4 three-pointers to put the game a way. Buskevics hit the first one, which Vasilopoulos answered with a layup to make it 63-61. The visitors wouldn't score for the next 8 minutes, but Slezas immediately went the other way and drilled another triple for the hosts. Next, Delininkaitis joined the fun from the arc, and Buskevics returned with his second bomb. When Mujezinovic scored underneath, the difference had climbed to 13 points, 74-61, and L. Rytas still wasn't done. The Reds suffered airballs and blocked shots while another sub, Pavelas Cukinas, dunked for L. Rytas. The next Olympiacos baskets came in the final minute, ironically by the Lithuanian among the visitors, Seibutis, but he could not enjoy the result, because this victory staying in his home country.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Antanas Pakula, Vilnius