| iurbentia Bilbao Basket took the make-or-break showdown to win Last 16 Group L by beating Lietuvos Rytas 67-59 at home on Tuesday. Both teams finished Group L tied at 4-2, but Bilbao was first due to its tie-break advantage, as it had previously registered a 73-71 road loss against L. Rytas in Vilnius, Lithuania. As such, Bilbao was first and will face Zadar in the do-or-die Eurocup quarterfinals in Turin, Italy early next month. Meanwhile, L. Rytas will have Group J champion Benetton Basket Tamoil in the quarterfinals. Marko Banic paced the winners with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Janis Blums added 12 points on 4-for-5 three-pointers - all in the second half - for Bilbao. Marijonas Petravicius led L. Rytas with 13 points. Donatas Zavackas added 12, Arturas Jomantas had 11 while Chuck Eidson got 10 for the guests, that trailed 33-31 at halftime. An outstanding Banic and Quincy Lewis helped Bilbao to boost its margin to 44-35 but Eidson and Jomantas allowed L. Rytas to regain the lead 46-47, late in the third quarter. Boums buried 3 bombs from downtown in a 13-0 run that broke the game open, 59-47, as L. Rytas did not managed to return to the game in the last 6 minutes.
Javi Salgado got Bilbao going with a running jumper, as L. Rytas went scoreless in the opening 3 minutes. Bilbao excelled with outstanding man-to-man defense, as Salva Guardia managed to stop Petravicius in the early going. Zavackas, however, sank a mid-range jumper that Eidson followed with a three-point play for a 2-5 L. Rytas edge. Banic scored around the basket and soon added free throws to tie it at 6-6. Zavackas kept pacing L. Rytas with foul shots while Petravicius added a layup in transition to put the guests back ahead, 6-10. Drago Pasalic dunked it while Banic followed a jumper with a layup-plus-foul to restore a 13-11 Bilbao edge. Salgado and Petravicius traded free throws while a layup by Ronnie Seibutis and a three-pointer by Jomantas fixed the score at 17-15 after 10 minutes. Jomantas struck again from downtown early in the second quarter while Banic and Eidson traded layups for a 19-20 score. Damir Markota scored in transition but Mindaugas Lukauskis banked in an off-balance triple to restore a 22-23 L. Rytas edge. Bilbao called timeout and improved its defense but kept missing open shots. Luke Recker buried a stop-and-pop jumper and soon added a fast break layup to provide another lead change, 26-23. Zavackas answered from downtown but L. Rytas kept struggling to find open shots. Banic took over with a three-point play but Petravicius quickly answered with a reverse layup. Seibutis nailed a corner triple - the hosts' first in this game after 10 attempts - but Steponas Babrauskas copied him for a 31-31 tie. Free throws by an unstoppable Banic gave Bilbao a 33-31 edge at halftime.
Bilbao stayed focused in defense after the break while a jumper by Lewis gave the hosts a 35-31 edge. L. Rytas could not get Eidson involved now while Banic followed a layup with a wild put-back dunk to make the guests call timeout at 39-31. Just as in the beginning of the game, L. Rytas has been scoreless for more than 3 minutes while Eidson dunked it. Paco Vazquez buried his trademark corner triple but Eidson fed Petravicius for an easy layup. Lewis shined with a mid-range jumper but Eidson answered from downtown for a 44-38 L. Rytas deficit. Jomantas followed free throws with a layup to get L. Rytas back in the game, 44-42. Salgado and Zavackas traded layups while a three-pointer by Justas Sinica completed the guests' comeback, 46-47. Free throws by Banic and a running triple by Janis Blums made Bilbao regain the lead, 51-47, after 30 minutes. Blums insisted from downtown early in the fourth quarter, as L. Rytas could not find the way to the basket right when it mattered. Meanwhile, a layup by Banic made it a nine-point game, 56-47, with under 7 minutes to go. Banic had a big block on Petravicius that allowed Blums to bury a triple that broke the game open, 59-47. Zavackas tried to change things with a three-point play that Seibutis erased with a triple. Time was running out for L. Rytas, as Bilbao had opted to run the game clock down with long possessions. Petravicius scored down low but yet another three-pointer by Boums sealed the outcome, 65-52, with 3 minutes to go. Everything was said and done already, as both teams will do their best to meet again in the Eurocup final next April.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009