Zalgiris Kaunas needed every last second of an overtime thriller on Wednesday to finally beat visiting Scavolini 91-87 and strengthen its position in the stretch run for the Top 16 from Group B. Both teams are now 6-6, and will share a part of third, fourth or fifth place when the week is finished. Robert Pack and Tanoka Beard made 5 of 6 free throws in the last 90 seconds of overtime to preserve a hard-fought victory for Zalgiris, which had been behind much of the game. Beard had sent the game to overtime when his last-second shot in the fourth quarter was ruled to have been illegally blocked by Scavolini's Robert Archibald. Pack had 21 points for the winners, Beard 20 and 10 rebounds, Timinskas 17 points and Simonas Serapinas 10. For Scavolini, Hanno Mottola finished with 23 points, Scoonie Penn 22, Marko Milic 17, Archibald 13 and Matteo Malaventura 10. Scavolini played without injured Euroleague scoring leader Charles Smith.
Zalgiris opened the scoring with Jankunas dunking on fastbreak. Pack soon added a jump shot and fed Beard for a dunk, but Scavolini answered each with jumpers, by Milic, Mottola and Penn for an early 6-6 tie. Zalgiris stared committing turnovers and Milic made the hots pay with a jumper and a triple for a 6-11 Scavolini lead. Beard inside for Zalgiris and Penn on the run for Scavolini had a scoring duel, but the visitor ended it with a shot from downtown for a 12-18 lead by his team. Timinskas and Jankunas cut difference to 16-18 before Milic, Penn and Matteo Malaventura rallied Scavolini with a 0-9 run to finish the quarter with a commanding 16-27 lead and the Kaunas crowd silenced.
Beard and Timiniskas started turning Zalgiris around in the second quarter before Darjus Lavrinovic climbed off the bench to nail a three-pointer that cut the difference to 23-29. When Mottola answered the Zalgiris zone defense with a jumper and a triple, however, the lead was back into double digits for Scavolini, 23-34. A couple scoreless minutes passed before Malaventura gave the guests their biggest lead, 23-36. But then Pack hit layup and Timinskas added 2 baskets in penetration to calm the hosts, now withini 29-36. With young center Martynas Andriuskevicius in the paint now, the Zalgiris defense held Scavolini to 5 points in 6 minutes as Pack's next layup and an extra free throw ended the half with Scavolini's lead cut to 34-39.
Dainius Salenga opened the third quarter for Zalgiris with jump-hook, but Scavolini answered with a 3-7 run to extend its margin into double digits again, 38-48. Timinskas and Mottola exchanged layups and Beard added another basket. Timinskas fired up the crowd with a basket-plus-free throw, but Mottola worked against Andriuskevicius and got 2 free throws for his efforts. Archibald copied him a few seconds later and Zalgiris looked in trouble until Pack nailed a long-awaited triple and to initiate a 6-0 run that got hosts as close as 50-54. For 3 minutes Scavolini scored only with free throws until Archibald made a hook shot that left the visitors still ahead, 52-58, after 30 minutes.
After the teams traded 2 baskets each to start the final quarter, Vidas Ginevicius got Zalgiris close with a three-pointer and Serapinas copied him to tie 62-62 and get the crowd going again. Scavolini then suffered a 24-second violation, but when Zalgiris did not take advantage, Mottola struck from downtown to return the lead to the visitors. Penn supported him with another shot from behind the arc, but after Beard's second-chance layup, Salenga tied again on a penetration. Beard would put Zalgiris ahead at last, but Mottola took the lead right back for Scavolini, and he did it again, for 73-75, after Serapinas had drilled another triple. Timinskas and Pack kept Zalgiris close with free throws, but Penn hit a jumper for a 77-79 lead to set up the dramatic final play of regulation time. After a timeout with 2.3 seconds to go, Salenga assisted Beard inside on a quick shot that was blocked by Archibald, but it too late because the ball was already falling and the referees counted the basket to finish four quarter with a 79-79 tie.
Zalgiris started overtime with two big men again, and Andriuskevicius scored an easy layup soon as an answer to Malaventura's jumper. When the 2.18-meter Andriuskevius added a triple, Zalgiris went in front 84-81, but Scavolini stayed active as Penn cut the margin to a point by making 2 free throws. Serapinas converted an airball into an alley-up dunk, making Zalgiris look charmed again, and when Archibald missed both free throws while Beard made both of his, the hosts led 88-85. Milic reduced that to a point with a dunk, but Pack made 2 free throws and Andriuskevicius a block on defense, Zalgiris smelled victory. Pack's next free throw left a 91-87 lead with 5 seconds left and Zalgirs had escaped with a monumentally important home win.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005