Aris TT Bank finished its Euroleague campaign with a morale boost after beating Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 83-74 on Wednesday at the Alexandrio Melathron in Thessaloniki, Greece. Both teams played their last game of the Euroleague season since Fenerbahce Ulker defeated Tau Ceramica to secure second place in Group E. L. Rytas and Aris both finish with 2-4 records, but L. Rytas is third due to a better point-difference in their head-to-head meetings. L. Rytas won 89-74 last month in Lithuania. Jeremiah Massey had another monster game with 28 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks to lead Aris to victory. Darius Washington added a season-high 18 points and 4 assists, Savvas Iliadis 13 points, also a season-high, while Dimitrios Tsaldaris score 11 and Reyshawn Terry 10. Kenan Bajramovic led L. Rytas with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Jackson Vroman scored 13, Chuck Eidson 12 and Marijonas Petravicius returned to action after missing a month with a foot injury and recorded 6 points in 10 minutes.
Aris tried to control the tempo of the game early in the first quarter, but Lietuvos Rytas stole the ball twice to take a 5-8 lead. Giorgos Kalaitzis got early in foul trouble, however his replacement, Washington, pushed Aris to tie the game for the first time 10-10. Still L. Rytas was always a step ahead thanks to Eidson, whose mid-range jumper put his team in charge, 11-16, and forced Aris head coach Gordon Herbert into a timeout call with thee minutes to go. Nothing changed in the remaining minutes of the period as Vroman managed to keep his team ahead with a pair of easy lay ups. However, Massey netted a tip and Washington made free throws to cut the deficit at the end of the quarter to 18-19.
Petravicius came back to action after his injury and dunked the ball, but Massey stood up with a personal 5-point run to give the lead to the hosts for the first time in the game, 24-23. Iliadis added to his team’s difference by isolating Bajramovic twice and leaving no choice to visitors’ bench than asking for a timeout at 28-24, midway through the second quarter. The guests came back with a totally different lineup, but Washington, Iliadis and Washington drove to the basket to extend the margin close to 34-26. Bajramovic decided to wake his team up by firing from beyond the arc and Martynas Gecevicius soon copied him to bring his team closer to the hosts, 40-36, at halftime.
Massey was unstoppable early in the third quarter and extended his team’s margin with back-to-back layups. The guests couldn’t find their way to the basket for the first three minutes and Washington added to the hosts’ advantage with his first triple, 47-38. After a timeout call by L. Rytas head coach Aleksandar Trifunovic, the guests woke up and came back as Hollis Price took the team into his arms, igniting a decisive 7-point run capped by his second triple, 47-45, two minutes before the end of the quarter. However, Aris stayed in charge till the end of the quarter with Terry and Washington throwing down dunks and Tsaldaris beating the buzzer to gibe Aris a 57-48 lead.
Iliadis scored in transition to give his team a double-digit margin early in the third quarter, 59-48. Vroman reacted and cut the damage with some very smooth low post moves and Bajramovic drilled his team’s first triple of the last quarter to force Aris into a timeout call at 61-55. However, Aris showed different character in the next couple of minutes and managed to push the difference again in the double digits, 65-55, as Tsaldaris and Iliadis visited successfully the foul line three minutes before the final whistle. The hosts retained their margin due to Massey’s presence under the basket as Vroman was the only one fighting from L. Rytas. It was obvious that both teams were informed about Fener’s win and the death of their last hopes to make it to the playoffs saw the drama decrease as Aris dedicated the last Euroleague win to the fans.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008