Rytas rallies to stop visiting Mornar
In a game that did not affect either team's future, Rytas Vilnius closed its Group D campaign by stopping never-say-die Mornar Bar 71-67 at home in the Lithuanian capital. Rytas, which had already qualified for the Top 16, raised its Group D record to 5-5. Mornar challenged in its goodbye game, holding leads for most of the second half, but nonetheless left its first EuroCup season with a 2-8 mark. Young center Martynas Echodas set several career highs, including 23 points and a 31 PIR, to lead the winners. Mindaugas Girdziunas added 14 points and Eimantas Bendzius 10 for the home team. Nemanja Vranjes paced Mornar with 13 points, while Uros Lukovic and Dorde Drenovac added 12 each.
D.J. Seeley gave Rytas its first lead from deep at 7-5 but otherwise Mornar hung tough, following Landing Sane and Lukovic to a 17-17 tie on the first basket of the second quarter. Echodas got up to 8 points to get the hosts back in front, but Drenovac had a quick 6 as Mornar regained a lead at 27-30 on a triple by Vranjes. Sane was back for his second triple as Mornar pulled into halftime ahead by 31-37. Dominique Sutton hit what was just his team's second triple to get the Rytas offense rolling again, but 5 straight points by Vranjes and heads-up play at both ends by Lukovic sent Mornar up 40-48. The difference would reach 42-52 for Mornar before Rytas reeled off a 7-0 run to pull within 51-54 after 30 minutes. Bendzius evened the score from deep on the fourth quarter's first shot, starting a series of ties. Echodas broke it at 60-58 halfway through the quarter, giving Rytas its first lead since 27-26 midway through the second quarter. Seeley added a layup and then fed Echodas for a dunk and the home team's biggest lead, 64-58. Triples by Nikola Rebic and Vranjes inside the final minute made things interesting but a layup by Girdziunas and free throws from Sutton and Seeley were enough to keep the victory in Vilnius.
Martynas Echodas, the 21-year-old center for Rytas, played like a veteran, keeping his team in the game with 11-for-14 two-point accuracy on his way to 23 points. That was one of five career highs for him, including his PIR of 31, 4 assists and 2 assists. His 11 two-pointers not only matched the regular season high throughout the EuroCup, but tied the Rytas record in the club's 155th game in the competition.
Lukovic finishes strong
Uros Lukovic of Mornar finished his 7DAYS EuroCup debut having ranked second in blocks (1.7 per game) and fourth in two-point accuracy (71.9%). His 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in Vilnius had a lot to do with Mornar coming near to an upset.
Blocker in the house
While Rytas struggled with an eliminated opponent on its home court, help was on the way. Earlier in the day, the team signed former EuroCup blocks leader Artsiom Parakhouski, who was already in town watching his teammates play and is due to join them for the Top 16.
Rytas will participate in Group E of the Top 16 along with AS Monaco and two teams to be decided later on Wednesday. A draw will be held to determine the calendar for the Top 16, which opens play on January 2.
Wednesday, December 19, 2018