Pocius leads Zalgiris past Strasbourg in Coach Stombergas's debut
In a clash of two teams in desperate need for a win, Zalgiris Kaunas downed visiting Strasbourg 88-64 at Zalgirio Arena on Thursday. The victory improved the Lithuanian champion to 1-2 in Group B, while Strasbourg dropped to 0-3. With a new head coach Saulius Stombergas in charge, the hosts hit 14 triples on only 22 attempts and only trailing twice in the first quarter. Martynas Pocius paced the winners going 7 of 9 from downtown, while scoring 23 points and dishing 5 assists in only 24 minutes. Justin Dentmon netted 15. Sarunas Jasikevicius scored 13 points off the bench, after becoming only the seventh player in history with at least 300 three-pointers made. Alexis Ajinca scored 21 points for Strasbourg, Jeremy Leloup added 12 and Louis Campbell 10 in defeat.
First quarter: Pocius scores 11, gives Zalgiris early lead
Pocius hit a triple to start the scoring, and after Greer opened the visitors' account with a close-range bucket, Pocius nailed another three to make it 6-2. But Alexis Ajinca answered with a jump shot, Greer added a triple, and a baseline jumper from Leloup gave Strasbourg its first lead, 8-9. The visitors had good ball movement, but failed to capitalize. Dentmon and Vytenis Lipkavicius made easy layups for a 14-11 lead, but Campbell tied the score on the ensuing possession with a three-pointer. Pocius kept the hosts ahead with a tough driving layup, and after Ajinca made a two-handed slam on the other end, Pocius sank his third triple of the night to round out the scoring in the first quarter, giving Zalgiris a 19-16 edge.
Second quarter: Saras leads Zalgiris to a double-digit lead
Ajinca opened the second quarter with a turnaround baseline jumper, but Jasikevicius scored behind the arc at the other end for his first points of the game and triple number 300 of his glorious Euroleague career. Tim Abromaitis answered from with a three-pointer for Strasbourg, but Arturas Milaknis scored inside, and Saras scored a couple more driving layups to make it 28-23. After a timeout, with Zalgiris keeping up the intensity on defense and controlling the paint, Siim-Sander Vene and Jasikevicius each added a three-pointer to the hosts' tally, 34-23 midway through the quarter. Ajinca had the answer inside, with a hook-shot, but Pocius sank another three-pointer for a 12-point lead. Leloup hit right back from downtown, and Greer’s put-back-plus-foul cut it to 39-31. The visitors also connected on all 4 free throw attempts in the closing minutes of the quarter, but Dentmon hit a dagger from long range and Robertas Javtokas made a hook-shot for Zalgiris to make sure it took a 44-35 lead into the locker room.
Third quarter: Zalgiris pulls away
Leloup and Pocius traded triples to open the third quarter, before a one-handed slam from Jankunas and a reverse layup from Dentmon made it 51-38. Leloup hit a jumper for the visitors, but Lipkevicius scored a layup and Dentmon followed it up with couple of threes for 59-42. Campbell snapped the run from downtown, but Pocius hit his sixth triple and Vene’s put-back made it 64-45. Strasbourg went inside to Ajinca twice, but Vene hit a baseline jumper and Milaknis raced for a two handed fastbrak slam to beat the buzzer, ending the third quarter at 70-51.
Fourth quarter: Hosts cruise to victory
Milaknis started the scoring in the fourth quarter as it was clear Zalgiris was on its way to victory. Ajinca strung together 7 points to keep Strasbourg in range, but the visitors did not come any closer as Dentmon hit from mid-range, and Vene from near. Zalgiris kept the defensive intensity, continuing to be dominant on the boards, and Taddas Klimavicius made a dunk on a put-back. Pocius and Jasikevicius each added a triple to the tally, before a long jumper from Mindaugas Kupsas made it 86-60. Abromaitis and Romain Duport scored layups for Strasbourg in the final minute, before Ksistof Lavrinovic rounded out the scoring with a put-back.
Thursday, October 31, 2013