With four games still to play in the regular season Leituvoc Rytas has already clinched a Top 16 spot after a one-sided 85-50 home win over MSB Le Mans Sarthe Basket on Thursday night at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania. L. Rytas climbed to 8-2 in Group B and remains tied for the group lead with Unicaja. Meanwhile Le Mans remains the only team in the Euroleague still without a win. L. Rytas dominated the game from the very start and already after 10 minutes held a double-digit lead, 23-10. Le Mans had difficuties to score in the paint against the locals' tough defense, and in a night of one out of 11 from downtown, the visitors couldn't find an answer. L. Rytas never let up and the lead kept growing and reached a peak of 39 in the closing minutes. Matt Nielsen led Rytas with 20 points in 18:24 minutes, Marijonas Petravicius added 14 points and 7 rebounds, while Chuck Eidson and Mindaugas Lukauskis scored 11 each. For Le Mans, Raviv Limonad finished as the top scorer with 11 points in addition to four assists but hit only four out of 14 shots. Phil Ricci added 10 points.
Le Mans won the opening tip, but saw Petravicius put L. Rytas first on the board with a basket and a bonus. Antione Diot gave the visitors their first lead, 3-4, and helped push the ball quick up the court in transition, but his teammates couldn’t convert and saw L. Rytas take over again. A corner three pointer by Eidson followed by another Eidson jumper gave L. Rytas a 12-7 lead half way through the first quarter. Nielsen came as a trailer to finish a fast break with a big dunk, as L. Rytas continued to run and take a 17-7 lead before coach Vincent Collet called for his first time out. Sam Clancy broke Le Man's drought with 3 points, but L. Rytas's big men gave him a hard time and Le Mans had to sweat for every point. Hollis Price and Lukauskis fed the ball inside as Petravicius hit his 8th point and Lukauskis himself iced the cake to make it 23-10 for the home team after the first quarter, in which both teams combined for only a single three pointer out of four attempts.
L. Rytas came ready to make a statement early in the second. Price with a three-pointer and Arturas Jomantas quickly made it an 18-point game, which wasn't in Le Mans’s game plan. Even when L. Rytas lost focus for a short time, soon it regained its dominance and managed to take over some loose balls that could have helped Le Mans. When Lukauskis hit his first three and made it 33-14 in the midway through the period, Le Mans took another timeout in hope of finishing the first half with some view to the sun. The orange came back from the timeout a little bit more aggressive and attacked the rim, but still couldn't convert. Luka Bogdanovic, with a nice fade-away jumper, tried to change the rhythm, but saw Lukauskis add a couple of three-pointers to turn this into a rout. Jomantas gave his team double points than the opponent, 48-24, before Limonad added two from the line to take his team to the halftime break down by 22, and still without a single hit from long range in four attempts.
Limonad continued with the way he finished the first half, with another 2 points and another assist, but Le Mans couldn't match L. Rytas’s offense. Nielsen blocked Clancy on one side and after Price hit a long-range shot at the other, Nielsen showed he can do the same as the hosts made it 54-32. Eidson with a great pass helped Nielsen collect 2 more points and after young prospect Martynas Gecevicius came off the bench to sink another three-pointer the fans in Siemens Arena went crazy. Le Mans took another timeout after Eidson disgraced them with a bucket that made it a 29-point difference, but nobody in Vilnius was willing to put them out of their misery. Nielsen certainly had no reason to take that part as his 9 points in a row made it 72-35 right before the third quarter buzzer.
Both sides lost focus early in the fourth and after three minutes, L. Rytas scored the first 2 points in the period. Bogdanovic finally hit Le Mans' first three pointer of the night and Limonad made it a 30-point difference again, but Rytas showed no mercy. Gecevicius hit another long-range shot and Petravicius came back to lead an 11-2 run and mark a 39-point lead, 83-44. Limonad and Yannick Bokolo tried to reduce the damage, but that didn't change the happy faces on the L. Rytas bench, behind an aggressive 85-50 win.
Thursday, January 3, 2008