Andorra advances to Top 16 despite loss at Lietkabelis
MoraBanc Andorra locked up a spot in the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 despite losing 77-69 at Lietkablelis Panevezys in Group C. Margiris Normantas led the way with 17 points for Lietkabelis, which improved to 2-7 in the group, but needed a 10-point victory to stay alive for the next stage. Gytis Masiulis added 16 points and 9 rebounds, Kyle Vinales had 12 points and 7 assists and Djordje Gagic chipped in 11 points in the win. It was Andorra that was celebrating in the end despite falling to 3-5 in the group. Clevin Hannah saved the day with 27 points and Haukur Palsson scored 12 points.
Oriol Pauli opened the scoring for the guests and Gabrieljus Maldunas scored first for the home side. Hannah’s triple was matched at the other end by Masiulis to give the hosts an 11-8 edge. Andorra went on the first run of the game with Tomasz Gielo and Guillem Colom hitting back-to-back three-pointers in a 2-10 surge to go up 13-18. Normantas ended the streak with a three-pointer and Paulius Valinskas knotted the game at 20-20 after 10 minutes. Valinskas's three-point play pushed the lead to 25-20 early in the second quarter as Andorra went more than 3 minutes without a point. Palsson hit a triple for the visitors, but Vytenis Lipkevicius answered and Vinales converted an and-one to push the margin to 35-28. Palsson and Hannah both hit from deep as the difference shrunk to 36-34. After a timeout, Masiulis drained a triple only to see Bandja Sy’s putback dunk get Andorra within 39-37 at the break.
Gagic scored the first basket of the second half to extend the lead to 41-37. Hannah came up with a pair of three-point plays and an assist in a 0-9 run over the next 4 minutes to move ahead 41-46. Normantas answered with 3 three-pointers as Lietkabelis went back ahead 52-50. A Palsson triple put Andorra ahead, but Masiulis hit from deep and the score was 57-57 after 30 minutes. Troy Barnies scored his first points of the game early in the fourth on a triple to make it 62-57. Gielo got the guests on the board, but Masiulis had 5 points - including a three-pointer - to push the advantage to 69-59 with less than 7 minutes to play. Hannah punched back with a triple only to see Valinskas drain a triple to re-establish a 10-point lead. There were less than 2 minutes left when Hannah hit a driving layup and then drained a triple to bring his side within 74-69. Vinales kept the hopes alive with a three-pointer for a 77-69 advantage with 44 seconds left. But Valinskas missed a three-pointer and it was Andorra’s victory in defeat.
The game was even after three quarters before Lietkabelis surged ahead by the necessary 10 points. But Hannah would not let his team down - just like the whole game. The guard scored a career-high 27 points and evened his career-best of 4 steals while picking up an index rating of 27.
Another strong showing by Gagic
Lietkabelis got another strong showing from its recent signing Djordje Gagic as the Croatian amassed 11 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks for an index rating of 16 in just 21 minutes. He collected 13 points, 6 rebounds, 9 fouls drawn and a PIR of 17 in Round 9 against Telenet Giants Antwerp.
Andorra turned the ball over only 11 times - just four times in the first half, during which the guests also grabbed 11 offensive rebounds. In the end, Lietkabelis won the rebounding battle 39-33, but the damage was done in the first 20 minutes.
Lietkabelis has one more game left in the regular season: it will host AS Monaco on Friday night in a Round 7 makeup contest. Andorra still has two makeup games left and will head to Italy for its Round 8 game against Virtus Segafredo Bologna on Tuesday, December 22.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020