Andorra survives late Lietkabelis push
Morabanc Andorra claimed a hard-fought win over Lietkabelis Panevezys 81-76 at Poliesportiu D’Andorra on Tuesday night. The hosts, who remained unbeaten at home and improved to 5-2 overall had 6 three-point plays in the second quarter to build a 53-40 at halftime and entered the last period leading 72-57. The visitors didn’t surrender and got within a single possession, 77-74, but free throws by Codi Miller-McIntyre and Clevin Hannah in the last minute saved the day for the home team. Drew Crawford was Andorra’s top scorer with 14 points, while Hannah netted 12 and Miller-McIntyre posted 11 points and 6 assists. Gediminas Orelik scored 23 points and grabbed 7 rebounds for a PIR of 29, Panagiotis Kalaitzakis contributed 13 points and Djordje Gagic added 11 for Lietkabelis, which dropped to 3-4.
The visitors had a better entrance to the game and took an early 3-8 edge on a three-pointer by Orelik. Crawford answered from the same distance before Miller-McIntyre finished a fastbreak with a nice floater to tie it at 8-8. Free throws by Hannah granted Andorra its first lead, 11-10, but it didn’t last for long. Even though offensive rebounding provided Lietkabelis second-chance points to get back in front, 11-15, a 12-0 run led by Babatunde Olumuyiwa and Amine Noua helped the hosts dominate 25-19 after 10 minutes.
Gabrielius Maldunas opened fire in the second quarter to bring the visitors within a single possession, but Andorra found timely long-range answers from Gal Mekel and Noua to stay calm, 31-23. Nikola Radicevic stepped up to keep the visitors in the game. Then Hannah and Conor Morgan nailed back-to-back triples and Oriol Pauli contributed a basket-plus-foul to make it 48-36. Another bomb by Crawford extended the lead to 15, which Lietkabelis managed to reduce to 53-40 at halftime.
Kalaitzakis fueled the visitors with 4 quick points after the break. Gagic followed with a fastbreak dunk and Orelik hit from downtown to reduce the gap to 57-49. Crawford came to the rescue and strung together a couple of three-point plays in an 8-0 run, which helped Andorra recover a safe margin, 65-49, midway through the third quarter. Although the visitors continued fighting, each comeback attempt was rapidly suffocated by the hosts. Back-to-back threes by Morgan closed the third quarter with Andorra comfortably in control, 72-57.
Gagic went to work inside and Kalaitzakis added a free throw to allow Lietkabelis to keep breathing, 74-62, with 6 minutes to go. Coach Ibon Navarro tried to revive his team with a timeout, but Andorra seemed to have lost its offensive momentum completely. A 6-minute span without scoring opened the door for the visitors to get within 6 after a 0-11 run. Miller-McIntyre and Hannah ended the drought from the line and Andorra led 77-68 entering crunch time. The visitors had not said their last word, though, as 3 steals in a row by Lietkabelis put the game on the line, 77-74, with 14 seconds to go. The comeback attempt finished when Miller-McIntyre poured in 2 free throws as Orelik's answer came too late for the visitors.
Day and night
MoraBanc Andorra displayed a terrific offensive performance in the first half, going for 53 points on 7-of-11 two-point shooting (63.6%), 9-of-14 on triples (64.2%), and 12-of-12 on free throws (100%). That superb accuracy granted the home team a 53-40 lead at halftime, which it extended to 74-57 early in the last period. But an unexpected offensive blackout took place then, as Andorra remained scoreless for 6 minutes and was unable to score a single field goal in the last 9. Only two players, Clevin Hannah and Codi Miller-McIntyre, were able to contribute points, and they both had to do it from the free-throw line. Fortunately for Andorra, it was all that was needed to abort Lietkabelis's rally in the end.
Telling numbers: Free throws became Andorra’s life-jacket
Even though the game looked far from a tight one for the first three quarters, a late Lietkabelis rally made it a one-possession game entering the last minute. Three steals in a row by the visitors turned the end of the game into a free-throw battle, which proved useless against Andorra’s cold-blooded players from the line. The hosts went for an almost perfect 23-of-25 shooting (92%), missing just one shot in the third quarter and another one in the fourth. Compared to Lietkabelis's 15-of-25 (60%), and seeing how tough the game turned into in the end, few would doubt the line was a factor in this game.
Lietkabelis falls short despite offensive rebounding
The visiting team lived up to its reputation as one of the best 7DAYS Eurocup teams in offensive rebounding in its game against Morabanc Andorra. It ranked second in that category after six rounds, averaging 12.0 boards per game. Even though its opponent had proved itself quite powerful under its rim so far - was second in defensive rebounding at 27.5 per game, Lietkabelis Panevezys finished the day with 17 offensive rebounds, tying its best this season, and going for its second-best all-time. This effort granted 25 second-chance points - against Andorra’s 5, but it was not enough to claim the win.
Tuesday, December 14, 2021