Galatasaray overcame Lietuvos Rytas 63-71 at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania, to advance to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season for the first time in club history. Galatasaray trailed early, but used a 2-13 run to take a 28-30 halftime lead and continued to add to it throughout the second half. Head coach Oktay Mahmuti’s men will play in Euroleague Group D with Asseco Prokom, FC Barcelona Regal, Montepaschi Siena, Unics Kazan and Union Olimpija. Preston Shumpert paced the Galatasaray attack with 14 points off the bench, Josh Shipp and Luksa Andric added 12 apiece and Jaka Lakovic tallied 10 points and 5 assists for the winners. Renaldas Seibutas scored 11 first-quarter points for Rytas, but quieted after that and finished with 15. Goran Jeretin added 12 and Steponas Babrauskas had 10 in defeat. Rytas will compete in the Eurocup this season, a competition it won just two seasons ago.
The game off to a fast start with both teams playing hard. Tyrese Rice used all his athletic ability to hang in the air and twist for the game’s first basket on a layup. Jamon Lucas answered quickly with a jumper for Galatasaray and then Shipp converted a basket-plus-foul as the visiting side got going. Rice relied on his speed to keep Rytas close and then Seibutas stuck a jumper to make it 8-7. The teams proceeded to trade baskets with Seibutas tying the game at 11-11 with a triple and then getting a nifty left-handed drive to fall on the next possession. A Lawrence Roberts steal led to another Seibutas score before Jonas Valanciunas added to the lead with a spin move and two-handed slam. Jeretin capped a 13-2 finish to the opening quarter as Rytas put 21-13 on the scoreboard.
Shumpert netted Galatasaray’s first points of the second quarter, but Babrauskas hot from downtown to stretch the Rytas lead to 9. Rice went down hard after crashing into Ender Arslan and picking up an offensive foul. Galatasaray started to work its way back after that with Furkan Eldemir scoring on the offensive glass and Shipp getting 2 from the line. Shumpert sank a second-chance, wide-open triple to make it 26-24. Jaka Lakovic took the Galatasaray run to 0-9 with a pair of free throws and then Arslan gave the visitors the lead with a scoop in the lane. Jeretin penetrated to end a five-minute Rytas scoring drought, but Lakovic soared through the land for a layup in the final second that left Galatasaray ahead 28-30 at halftime.
To the Rytas fans’ relief, Rice returned for the second half and his pretty pass to Seibutis tied the score at 32-32 three minutes into the third quarter. Big men Darius Songaila on the offensive glass and Luksa Andric from the line kept Galatasaray ahead, but Valanciunas made sure Rytas stayed within striking distance. Shipp went through Valanciunas for a basket-and-foul as the Galatasaray advantage jumped to 38-45. Rice drove to the paint for a pull-up jumper, but the hot hands remained with Galatasaray. Shumpert pushed the lead to double figures with a foul-line jumper and then sank a triple from the corner to give his team a promising 40-52 lead after three quarters.
Andric from the line and Shumpert from mid-range silenced Siemens Arena as the lead hit 16. Babrauskas scored to give Rytas hope and Jeretin tossed in a runner in transition to get to 44-56. However out of a timeout, Andric scored at the basket and Brad Newley was whistled for an offensive foul as the chances shifted further in Galatasaray’s favor. Roberts drained an important triple with just under six minutes remaining and a minute later Babrauskas connected from downtown, but the lead only shrunk to 13. Roberts threw down a powerful slam on the offensive glass to bring the deficit to 9. The Seibutis’s steal and layup with 2:50 got the arena rocking and rolling again. Jeretin nailed a deep triple with 2:16 on the clock to make it 58-62. Tutku Acik found Andric for an open layup on the next play and when Jeretin was called for traveling, it seemed the visitors had held off the Rytas rally. And when Jeretin missed from downtown, it appeared Rytas’s chances had run out. Lakovic practically sealed the outcome with 2 free throws with 32 seconds remaining as Galatasaray ran out the clock and celebrated a return to the Euroleague.
Sunday, October 2, 2011