Lietuvos Rytas continued its shocking rise through Group B with another upset road win, this time by 86-92 against two-time defending champs Maccabi in Tel Aviv on Thursday. The ULEB Cup champs not only recorded their fourth straight win, but three of them have come at the arenas of Maccabi, Efes Pilsen and Winterthur FCB. This one ended Maccabi's 10-game home winning streak. Haris Mujezinovic led L. Rytas with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Frederick House added 17 points, Robertas Javtokas 13 and Roberts Stelmahers 8 points and 7 assists. Nikola Vujcic had 25 to lead Maccabi, while Anthony Parker had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists in defeat. L. Rytas held short leads after each of the first two quarter, then pushed ahead 50-60 late in the third before Maccabi raced back to tie 61-61. The hosts even took a brief lead in the fourth, but Mujezinovic came through with 7 points to send L. Rytas to victory.
Mujezinovic hit a hook shot on the game's first possession for L. Rytas, but Vujcic soon made his presence felt on both ends. His foul shot got Maccabi's on the bard and he swatted Mujezinovic's attempt at the other end before driving to put the hosts ahead 5-2. On the next play, Robertas Javtokas's rim-rocking jam silenced the crowd, and from there, it was neck-and-neck until Jasaitis drained a three-pointer midway through the quarter to put L. Rytas ahead 11-14. Just as quickly, Vujcic, Derrick Sharp and Tal Burstein returned the lead to the hosts with a 7-0 run. Vujcic left and returned in a matter of seconds when replacement Jamie Arnold picked up two fouls. Tomas Delininkaitis came on for L. Rytas and nailed a long jumper before Jasaitis took over with points on three straight possessions. A Delininkaitis triple in the final minute gave L. Rytas a 21-26 lead after 10 minutes.
Vujcic missed a triple, but right back with a hook to cut into the lead to start the second quarter. Delininkaitis would have none of that, however, drilling a three and then setting up Matt Nielsen for a basket to make it 24-29. Derrick Sharp and Parker brought Maccabi back to within 30-31, but Javtokas grabbed a Nielsen miss and drew a third foul on Maceo Baston, forcing Maccabi to go with a smaller lineup. An offensive rebound by the short power forward in that lineup, Sharon Shason, got Parker to the foul line, where he put Maccabi ahead again. After a Stelmahers three, Shason came up with a big block to set up a Vujcic fastbreak layup. Still L. Rytas never wavered and remained on top thanks to solid play from the high post by Nielsen. Another Mujezinovic hook gave the visitors their biggest lead yet, 34-40. Maccabi charged back with good defense and an acrobatic Parker layup that thrilled the crowd. A Shason triple tied the game, but Sandis Buskevics and House ensured that L. Rytas would hold the lead at halftime, 40-44.
Missed shots and turnovers filled the first 90 seconds after halftime, but L. Rytas soon surged ahead as House dunked and Mujezinovic hit 5 points, including a triple, for a 42-51 lead. Maccabi called timeout and brought in Sharp and Baston, who each made steals. Then Vujcic sent Baston a perfect alley-oop pass as Maccabi started its comeback. Javtokas continued to wreak havoc on the boards, but he was too often outnumbered. After Parker's free throws made it 50-53, Mujezinovic nailed another three and a seemingly stunned Maccabi lost its way for a moment as a Jasaitis dunk made it 50-58. After another Maccabi turnover, Burstein committed a hard foul on Mujezinovic, who left the game for treatment. Nielsen made the free throws for Mujezinovic, pushing the L. Rtyas lead back to 10 points, but a Sharp triple followed by Vujcic's three-point-play kept Maccabi rolling until Parker's jumper from the corner beat the buzzer to tie it 61-61 after 30 minutes.
Maccabi started the final quarter with 5 straight misses while L. Rytas regained the lead on free throws by Javtokas and House, who soon added a triple to make it 62-66. But a minute later it was tied again after baskets from Vujcic and Parker. Mujezinovic was back and put the visitors on top from the foul line, and when Sharp's triple put Maccabi in front for the first time all half, he silenced the crowd with a three of his own and added a fast-break dunk to put L. Rytas back in control. Stelmahers bumped the lead up to 69-75 as both Baston and Javtokas struggled with free throws. L. Rytas reserve Mindaugas Lukauskis chipped in a basket before House beat the shot-clock buzzer with an eight-meter triple to make it 75-83 with 2:45 remaining. Maccabi had one last run left in its tank and with increased defensive pressure and hoops by Vujcic cut the lead to 81-84 in the span of a minute. But free throws by House and Javtokas left L. Rytas leading 81-86 with a minute remaining. Stelmahers ended Maccabi's hopes when his jumper with 30 seconds left touched every part of the rim before dropping in and House puntuated the upset with a dunk in the closing seconds as Lietuvos Rytas had another huge road win, 86-92.
Thursday, December 8, 2005
Frankie Sachs, Tel Aviv