Rytas Vilnius put on a three-point shooting display for the ages on Tuesday at Siemens Arena in the Lithuanian capital to overpower Tofas Bursa and eventually advance to the Top 16 after results later in the evening went its way. Not only did the team set a club record with 18 three-pointers made, it did so with just 15 missed shots. Entering Round 9, Rytas had averaged 8 three-pointers per game at a 35.5% success rate.
Five Rytas players made at least 3 triples with Arnas Butkevicius and Deividas Sirvydis each making 4 and Pako Cruz, Mindaugas Girdziunas and Eimantas Bendzius sinking 3 each. While the trio of Bendzius, Cruz and Sirvydis have been among the team's most-trusted marksmen all season, Butkevicius had shot 5 for 12 from deep and Girdziunas 4 for 11 heading into the game.
The first 3 threes came within 65 seconds on each other in the first quarter; Butkevicius hit a pair of threes and Cruz added another as the hosts stormed ahead 17-10. Cruz and Sirvydis connected on back-to-back shots to end the first half with a 57-31 lead. Rytas did not score for more than 4 minutes to start the second half, but then let loose; Sirvydis and Bendzius each nailed a triple and – after free throws by Tofas guard Muhaymin Mustafa – Bendzius sank another and Girdziunas made back-to-back threes to finish the quarter up 77-55.
Add up all the aforementioned shots and you will find that 10 of the threes were made as part of back-to-back or even back-to-back-to-back sets. It was almost as if the Rytas players – and surely the fans – were feeding off each successful three-pointer and gaining confidence for the next.
It was the type of shooting exhibition that may defy logic, but proves just how important confidence as an individual and a team is when it comes to shooting. The Rytas shooters all believed that every shot was going to go through the net and felt it even stronger after a made three – whether by oneself or a teammate. And they kept shooting – and kept making those threes in bunches.
Of the eight players in the Rytas rotation Tuesday, all but two made threes. One of the those who didn't, Martynas Echodas, the 2019 EuroCup Rising Star, took advantage of the attention paid to the perimeter players to score 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting inside. Great three-point shooting and a strong option in the paint working together could be a recipe for great Rytas success going forward.