In a back and forth game at the Zalgirio Arena on Thursday, Zalgiris Kaunas managed to pull its first win of the season thanks to a 81-70 thrilling win over Brose Baskets. The guests dominated the first minutes but a stellar Sonny Weems put the hosts back in the game and then ahead for good. However, Brose Baskets never surrendered and even had the chance to tie the game again with 5 minutes left, but after that, Zalgiris recovered and never looked back again to the delight of its fans on the stands. Zalgiris therefore improves to 1-3 in Group B while Brose drops to also 1-3. Weems was a beast in offense as he led all scorers with 22 points, Marko Popovic added 13 for Zalgiris and Milovan Rakovic had 12 points and 6 rebounds. For Brose Baskets, Predrag Suput led the way with 19 points, Marcus Slaughter posted 11 and Julius Jenkins had 10. A 38-29 in the rebounds battle for Zalgirisproved decisive for the first win of the hosts.
The first minutes of the game were fast-paced with Brose Baskets dominating the situation. Brian Roberts opened the score for the guests and soon Robertas
Javtokas had a left-handed hook to tie the game for Zalgiris, 2-2. However, the big men of Brose, Marcus Slaughter and PJ Tucker started dominating in
offense. Slaughter had a three-point play and Tucker posted four points in a row including a tip-in to soon make it 4-11 forcing Zalgiri's first timeout.
After resumption, Zalgiris regrouped despite Slaughter's new bucket. Marko Popovic blasted a three, making it his 26th consecutive game scoring at least one,
to make it 9-13. It was the wake-up call that the hosts needed as they pressed hard in defense and Brose Baskets now struggled in offense. Javtokas and Sonny
Weems hit 7 straight points, five from the latter, to soon put Zalgiris ahead, 16-15. The Zalgiris run went un up to 11-0 as Milovan Rakovic and Ty Lawson
joined the party of the hosts. Tibor Pleiss broke the spell for Brose Baskets but Popovic and Rakovic lifted the hosts to a 7-point lead, 26-19. Tadas
Klimavicius closed the first quarter with a long jumper from the corner with a 28-21 Zalgiris edge.
Julius Jenkins opened the second quarter with hopes for the guests with their first three and despite Rakovic's fast reply, Predrag Suput blasted a new
triple to make it 30-27. The Zalgiris defense was always one step behind the man now and Brose used it well, but in offense the hosts were as effective as in
the last part of the first quarter, especially through Weems, who was soon up to 10 points to keep his team at 37-29, but Casey Jacobsen and Suput, with five
straight points of his own, made it a one-point game again, 37-36. Zalgiris could not get away due to a poor 8 of 14 from the line at that point and Brose
used it to keep close to the hosts despite Weems' constant buckets, as Jacobsen fed Pleiss for the 41-40. Weems, who was single-handedly keeping Zalgiris
alive, slammed on Pleiss to bring the house down, but Jenkins replied silently with a three that tied it again, 43-43. In the last seconds of the period,
Brose was forced a shot on the 24-second clock and with few seconds to go, Weems, who could do no wrong, pulled up from about 9 meters to hit a bank shot on
the buzzer that made it 46-43 for the break, and set the stands on fire.
Roberts opened the second half for Brose with his bucket but then, a new 7-0 fell on them courtsey of Zalgiris. Paulius Jankunas hit four in a row and Weems,
who else, pulled up for a new three that made it 53-45 in the blink of an eye. Brose recovered thanks to a brilliant Suput who scored from everywhere and in
all ways possible to keep his team alive, 53-49. However, Mantas Kalnietis blasted a three form the sky and then added a basket to keep Zalgiris at a safe
distance. Defenses were forcing more turnovers on both sides now and Slaugher could only score for Brose from the charity line for four straight times, but
Rakovic appeared again to close the third period with a basket to make it 60-53 after 30 minutes.
The last period started with Popovic hitting the first double-digit lead of the game with his three, but Anton Gavel replied in the same way for the guests. Zalgiris was having a hard time with concentration by giving faulty passes that were stolen by Brose Baskets and used to get within two points once more, 64-62 thanks to Gavel and Slaughter. With two free throws in his hands with a little over 5 minutes to the end, PJ Tucker missed them both and Weems replied with a nifty long jumper for 66-62 that brought back some life to the Zalgirio Arena after difficult moments. Delininkaitis' next bucket gave some more air to the hosts, and now it was Brose Baskets' turn to collect some turnovers to let some good chances of getting real close slip. Nobody in the guests was confident enough to shoot until it was Gavel who put it in, but the fast reply came on the other end in the shaps of a dunk by Javtokas for 70-64. With another turnover for Brose and then free throws for the hosts, 74-64, the win was secured much to the celebration of the fans at the stands. Brose Basketes nevergave up but there was simply not enough time to recover again.
Thursday, November 10, 2011