Lietuvos Rytas rallied from a double-digit deficit in the final four minutes to edge Aris TT Bank 69-72 in Thessaloniki, Greece in Group B on Wednesday. L. Rytas improved to 9-2 and kept at least a share of the top spot in Group B. Meanwhile, Aris dropped to 6-5, but keeps all its chances to advance to the Top 16, as it will be at least fifth at the end of this round. Kenan Bajramovic paced the winners with 18 points. Hollis Price added 14, including the go-ahead layup with 19.8 seconds to go, while Chuck Eidson got 10 for L. Rytas, which trailed 64-54 with less than four minutes to go. Jeremiah Massey led Aris with 19 points, while Bracey Wright added 14. A 7-0 run that Reyshawn Terry capped with a triple gave Aris a 15-12 edge after 10 minutes. Massey and Giorgios Kalaitzis boosted the hosts' margin to 27-18, but Barjamovic, Jared Jordan and a final basket by Joao Paulo Batista got L. Rytas within 36-32 at halftime. Massey had 6 points in an 8-1 run that gave Aris a 59-50 lead early in the fourth quarter. An outstanding Eidson and back-to-back triples by Barjamovic and Price brought L. Rytas within 69-68 with a minute to go. Price scored in penetration for a 69-70 L. Rytas edge with 19.8 seconds to go. Wright missed a driving layup and Eidson sealed the outcome from the foul line.
Both teams started the game looking quite nervous and things remained scoreless for the first two minutes untill Massey opened the scoring with a free throw. Mindaugas Lukauskis and Marijonas Petravicius hit mid-range jumpers and Eidson scored a layup in transition to establish the first margin for the visitors, 1-6. However, Wright found the way to the basket for Aris and Massey added a tip-in to balance the game midway through the quarter. Shots fell for both teams for the next two minutes until Petravicius dunked the ball to put his team up 8-12, forcing Aris head coach Gordon Herbert to burn his first timeout. The hosts came off the bench with different attitude and reeled off 7 straight points capped by a Terry triple to put the home team ahead at the end of the quarter, 15-12.
Aris started the second quarter at full speed. Wright and Lazaros Agadakos started extending the lead for the hosts and Massey dunked in traffic to establish the first big margin in the game, 22-14, leaving no other choice for L. Ryts head coach Alexander Trifunovic but to call timeout. The visitors struggled offensively in the first three minutes until Bajramovic and Batista stood up and cut the damage. Aris controlled the game with Terrel Castle hitting a mid-range jumper to keep his team out of trouble, 27-18, with four minutes until the halftime whistle. But Arturas Jomantas’s triple sounded the charge for L. Rytas. The visitors stepped up with Bajramovic isolating Hanno Mottola twice to cut into the deficit, while Jordan shined by driving twice to the basket to bring his team closer within 33-30. Castle struck back from three-point range, leaving Batista to fix the final outcome of the time at 36-32.
In a game where the lead changed hands frequently, Lietuvos Rytas managed to come back early in the third quarter. Matt Nielsen tied the game and Price hit an early triple to put his team ahead, 36-37. However, the hosts reacted immediately with Mottola opening an 8-point run capped by Wright and Dimitris Tsaldaris, who traded shots from beyond the arc to give their team fresh air, 44-37, in the middle of the quarter. Price and Lukauskis tried to wake up the guests to come closer to Aris and Lietuvos Rytas charged back to the game with a 2-10 run capped by Bajramovic’s trip to the line, 46-47. Massey nailed a layup to take the lead back for the hosts late in the quarter, but Eidson drove to the baseline, dunking the ball to bring his team only a step behind Aris in the end of third quarter, 51-49.
Massey opened the scoring of the decisive quarter and soon Kalaitzis went to the foul line to increase Aris’s advantage to 55-50. Massey kept adding to the margin, as Lietuvos Rytas couldn’t find the way to the basket again during the first three minutes of the quarter. The fans put a lot of pressure upon the guests, but Bajramovic stood up again, solving the offensive problems with a jumper, 59-52. Still, Aris was unstoppable and Mottola managed to push for the first time to the double digits, 64-54, with four minutes to go. Price and Eidson drove quickly to the foul line to cut the deficit, but soon Wright answered with another triple, 69-62. However, Price took his team in his hands and netted 5 points in a row to bring his team closer, and then Bajramovic drilled another triple in transition to balance the score at 69-68. Aris was shocked by the guests’ return and committed back-back turnovers giving the chance to Price decide the game with a layup. Wright couldn’t beat the buzzer, because Eidson sent the live ball away from the basket in the last second.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008