Lietkabelis hangs on for first victory
Lietkabelis Panevezys put its 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 hopes in play by knocking off Telenet Giants Antwerp 80-73 for its first win of the season on Wednesday. Gytis Masiulis collected 26 points and 10 rebounds as Lietkabelis improved to 1-3 in Group C. Paulius Valinskas added 17 points and 5 rebounds and Troy Barnies scored 11 points in the win. Antwerp fell to 0-4 despite Speedy Smith's 15 points and 8 assists. Ibrahima Fall-Faye picked up 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks while the other three starters also scored in double figures: Vincent Kesteloot 12 points, Stephaun Branch 11 and David Dudzinski 10 points.
Kesteloot scored first and Antwerp was 0-6 before Lietkabelis finally put up its first points after 2 quiet minutes. Masiulis and Valinskas hit three-pointers to even the game 8-8, but Fall-Faye dunked home 2 of 3 straight Lietkabelis turnovers for a 10-14 Antwerp lead. The hosts did manage to pull back ahead but Antwerp was up 19-20 after 10 minutes. Three-pointers by Kyle Vinales and Valinskas had Lietkabelis ahead 25-22 only to see Smith drain back-to-back triples to put the guests back in front 25-30. Antwerp went the final 4:37 minutes of the first half without a basket as Margiris Normantas and Barnies drained three-pointers in a 15-3 run to put Lietkabelis up 42-35. After the break, inside buckets from Masiulis and Marin Maric increased the Lietkabelis advantage to 46-35. Antwerp failed to score until Smith's three-pointer after 2 minutes of the third quarter. Despite a triple and three-point play from Dudzinski, Lietkabelis kept Antwerp at an arm's length until Smith downed a triple on the third-quarter buzzer to make it 60-58. Vrenz Bleijenbergh opened the final frame for Antwerp with back-to-back three-pointers and it was 60-66 after Jalen Jenkins' put-back. Valinskas and Masiulis answered with back-to-back triples of their own to even the game and Maric made it 68-66. The lead switched hands three more time, the last two on triples from Masiulis and Smith as Antwerp went up 71-73. Maric and Masiulis combined for 5 free throws to put the hosts back ahead 76-73. At the other end, Antwerp failed to score on 4 straight possessions, including 2 missed free throws by Branch with 13 seconds left and the team down by 3 points. Masiulis added 2 foul shots with 10 seconds to secure the victory.
In a crucial game, Lietkabelis showed its nerves early on with 8 turnovers in the first 10 minutes. But the Lithuanian side settled down after that and only committed 4 turnovers the rest of the game.
Gytis Masiulis had a career night with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and an index rating of 38 -- all EuroCup highs for the 22-year-old center.
Lietkabelis knocked down 11 of 24 three-pointers (45.8%) compared to 8 of 23 (34.8%) for Antwerp, while also hitting 19 of 24 free throws to 5 of 9 for the visitors. Antwerp was unable to capitalize on a 26-10 advantage in second-chance points.
Lietkabeli will look to make it two in a row as it travels to play MoraBanc Andorra on October 27. Antwerp will be shooting to end its losing streak in a Round 5 matchup at home against Virtus Segafredo Bologna on the same night.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020