Mantas Kalnietis showed that he can still take over a game as the Lithuanian veteran tallied a EuroCup career-high 22 points in helping LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne to an 89-68 victory over Zenit St. Petersburg in a big showdown in Group C.
ASVEL struggled to keep Zenit from getting out on the break in the first half, but Kalnietis steered control of the game to the home side with three straight layups to open the second half. The 32-year-old added 3 three-pointers in the quarter in hitting his first 6 shots of the frame and ASVEL never looked back.
As big as his role was in the win, like a true team leader Kalnietis deflected the attention and focused on the team effort: "We knew that the Zenit is a really good offensive team. We played good defense, no doubt, the key of the game, because they scored only 68 points."
Kalnietis's 22 points, which came on 9-of-13 shooting from the field, topped his previous EuroCup mark of 20 for Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar against Stelmet Zielona Gora back in January 2013. Kalnieitis's scoring mark for all European club competitions remains 24 points in the EuroLeague for Zalgiris Kaunas at Khimki Moscow Region in December 2010.
Kalnietis also picked up 1 rebound, 5 assists and 1 steal in registering a performance index rating of 23 against Zenit as ASVEL improved to 4-1. After opening the season with just 3 points in the team's loss at Valencia Basket, Kalnietis has averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 assists in ASVEL's four-game winning streak.