Zvezda loses in Vilnius, but advances with a 4-point series win
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade lost a dramatic Game 2 against Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 82-80 on Wednesday, but won the Eurocup Eighthfinals series and advances to the quarterfinals with a 164-168 aggregate score thanks to its 6-point home win last week. Zvezda hit 8 triples on 10 attempts in the first half, and Tadija Dragicevic nailed three triples during a 2-11 run, giving the visitors 33-45 lead in the second quarter, that translated into a big 115-133 cushion for the series. But Rytas cut it to 42-49 at halftime, and grabbed a slim 56-55 lead in the third quarter behind baskets from Tautvydas Lideka and Renaldas Seibutis who scored all 16 hosts' points in the third period. But Katic scored 13 of the next 20 points for Zvezda, giving it 64-70 lead in the fourth quarter before a 10-1 run from Rytas got the hosts to 74-71, cutting the series deficit to only 3 points with a minute to go. However, Charles Jenkins scored twice, making it a 5-point series lead, which Zvezda preserved from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds. Rasko Katic paced the visitors with 19 points, Nelson had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while Marjanovic scored 12 for Zvezda which next faces Budivelnik Kiev. Juan Palacios collected 16 points plus 7 rebounds, and Seibutis also scored 16 for Rytas. Darius Songaila had 14, while Martynas Gecevicius and Lideka scored 10 apiece for the hosts.
Marjanovic and Nelson got Zvezda rolling from the get-go, and even though Palacios and Seibutis gave the hosts 6-4 early on, a triple from Jaka Blazic and 6 consecutive points from Marjanovic helped Zvezda to 10-17 lead. Seibutis and Palacios scored more for Rytas, but Blazic hit another three-pointer to help the visitors hold 17-22 after the first quarter, and 99-110 series lead. Stevan Jelovac nailed a triple for the hosts, and Gecevicius hit one from downtown as well, helping the hosts stay within 27-29. However, Branko Lazic sank a triple for Zvezda, before Dragicevic hit three from downtown in a span of 2 minutes and 15 seconds, giving the visitors 33-45 game lead, and a big 115-133 cushion for the series. However, Gecevicius nailed another three-pointer, and Songaila hit jumpers on three consecutive possessions, including the one that beat the halftime buzzer, making it 42-49 at the break (on aggregate 124-137).
Rytas opened the third quarter on fire, with Lydeka and Seibutis combining to score 14 points. Rytas grabbed a lead, its after the opening quarter, and 56-55 advantage meant the hosts cut the series deficit to 138-143. Katic strung together 6 points, and Marko Simonovic scored a layup for 56-61, and 138-149 on aggregate. The visitors kept Rytas scoreless for more than 4 minutes, before Seibutis finished the quarter with a fastbreak layup for 58-61. Both offenses slowed down even more in the fourth quarter, but Katic scored 6 points inside to keep Zvezda up 64-70, giving it a 12-point series margin. A full court pressure from the hosts led to another pair of baskets from Palacios that kept Rytas with hope, and Songaila made a tough shot from close range for 69-70 with 3 minutes to go. Omar Cook followed it with a triple, and Gecevicius sank a pair of free throws for 74-71, and 156-159 on aggregate. But Charles Jenkins nailed a jumper for the visitors with 65 seconds left to play, and followed it with a driving layup for 76-75. Split free throws from both Jenkins and Simonovic put Zvezda in front 76-77, a 7-point series lead, but Rytas kept fighting. Palacios scored a layup, missed a free throw, but Seibutis was there for a put-back and 80-77. A pair of free throws from Songaila made it 82-78 with 13 seconds to go, getting Rytas within 164-166 in the series, but Nelson sank his two free throws and sealed the deal.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014