Lietuvos Rytas became the Group B champion and a top-seeded team in the Top 16 Draw by downing Cibona 79-86 in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday night. L. Rytas finished Group B ahead everyone else with a 11-3 record due to its tie-break advantage against Maccabi Elite, second also at 11-3. Meanwhile, Cibona finished sixth in this group at 4-10, out of the Top 16. Kenan Bajramovic paced the winners with 19 points, leading 6 L. Rytas players in double digits. Hollis Price added 16 points, Chuck Eidson had 13, Marijonas Petravicius 11, Andrius Slezas 11 while Arturas Jomantas got 10 points for L. Rytas, that avoided CSKA and Panathinaikos in the Top 16 draw. Tre Kelley had 18 points for Cibona, Sam Hoskin added 15, Barisa Krasic 13 and Marin Rozic 12. Cibona rolled in the opening 15 minutes, as Hoskin, Rozic and an unstoppable Kelley allowed the hosts to get a 41-24 margin. Slezas had 8 quick points to bring L. Rytas within 46-37 at halftime. The guests completed their comeback, 50-51, on a layup by Jomantas. Cibona recovered and free throws by Rozic gave the hosts a 77-73 edge. Price had the final 5 points in a game-breaking 0-9 run that allowed L. Rytas to celebrate a major road win that came with a top-seeded spot in the draw.
Luksa Andric got Cibona going with a fast break layup, as L. Rytas started to miss easy shots in the early going. Hoskin followed a power layup with a big basket in the low post, as the guests could not find the way to the basket. Meanwhile, Chris Warren sank free throws for a 8-0 Cibona lead. L. Rytas called a much-needed timeout but another turnover allowed Rozic to scored in the other end. L. Rytas went scoreless for almost 4 minutes until Bajramovic sank a six-meter shot. A red hot Rozic answered from downtown to make it an 11-point game, 13-2. Rozic kept pacing Cibona with a floating layup and even when Eidson nailed his trademark mid-range jumper, Vedran Princ buried a three-pointer for a 18-5 Cibona lead. Eidson buried a six-meter shot and even when L. Rytas had improved its defense, Hoskin beat it with a put-back basket. Bajramovic followed a baseline jumper with free throws in a 0-6 L. Rytas run that Jomantas capped with a fast break layup for a 20-13 deficit. Warren scored inside and Andric added a free throws, but consecutive layups by Petravicius got Rytas even closer, 23-17, after 10 minutes.
Eidson made a free throw right at the start of the second quarter and even when Kelley shined with a driving basket, Jomantas took over with a put-back power layup to bring L. Rytas within 25-20. Both teams struggled to score now, as the game turned into a physical battle. Cibona made the most of it, as Krasic stepped up with a corner three-pointer. Franko Kastropil added a power dunk and by the time Kelley scored off a steal, L. Rytas coach Aleksandar Trifunovic had to call timeout at 32-20. Kelley made free throws off another steal that Joao Batista erased with a tip-in. An unstoppable Kelley stroke from downtown to make it a 15-point game, 37-22. Price and Kelley - who else? - traded baskets while Krasic sank a baseline jumper for a 41-24 Cibona lead. Andrius Slezas came off the bench and buried a triple while Jomantas added a jumper off a Cibona timeout. Krasic nailed a long two-pointer that Slezas matched eith foul shots. Rozic took over with a corner three-pointer while Petravicius finished a long L. Rytas offense with free throws. Slezas kept shining with his second three-pointer to get the guests within single digits, 46-37, at halftime.
Once again L. Rytas struggled to score early in the second half, while Andric gave the hosts a 48-37 margin. Barjamovic stepped up once again with a big triple from the top of the key but Hoskin sank free throws to restore a 50-40 Cibona margin. Eidson fed Petravicius for an uncontested layup while Price scored in transition to get L. Rytas as close as 50-44. Cibona could not find the way to the basket right when it mattered. Meanwhile, Eidson made free throws while Bajranovic added a layup-plus-foul to make the hosts call timeout, 50-49. A layup by Jomantas completed the guests' comeback, 50-51, after a 0-11 run. Hoskin stepped up for Cibona with a layup-plus-foul but Bajramovic tied the game again, 53-53. Cibona lost control in offense with Hoskin sitting on the bench now. Kastropil, however, stepped up with a put-back layup to put the hosts back ahead, 55-53. It didn't last long, however, as Price fired in one from downtown that Jared Jordan followed with a corner triple to make the hosts call timeout at 55-59. Kelley, Bajramovic and Krasic joined the three-point shootout but a driving layup by Jomantas kept L. Rytas ahead, 61-64, after 30 minutes.
Krasic fired in another three-pointer to tie the game, 64-64, early in the fourth quarter. Warren hit a jumper in the other end that Bajramovic erased with a corner shot. Hoskin fired in a six-meter jumper while Kelley added a driving layup in a 5-0 run that Warren capped with a free throw, good for a 71-66 lead. L. Rytas struggled to score until Jomantas stepped up with a put-back layup that Kelley matched with free throws. Jomantas kept pacing the guests with a mid-range jumper but Hoskin dunked it over Petravicius for a 75-70 Cibona lead. L. Rytas improved its defense right when it mattered. Slezas sank his third triple and even when Rozic made free throws, Petravicius made free throws while Price added the go-ahead triple for a 77-78 L. Rytas lead. Price made free throws for a 77-80 L. Rytas margin with 1:25 to go. Krasic missed a floating jumper but Jomantas did not manage to beat the shot clock in the other end. Price drew another foul and made free throws to seal the outcome, 77-82, with less than 40 seconds remaining. Mulaomerovic did not miss from the line but Eidson dunked it to seal L. Rytas' win in style.
Thursday, January 31, 2008