Lietuvos Rytas opened its drive for the Eurocup Finals on the right track by defeating BC Donetsk 76-65 at home on Tuesday in the first game of their two-game, total-points quarterfinals series. Steponas Babrauskas scored 15 points, making 3 of 6 shots from downtown, and Jonas Valanciunas produced a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the winners. Rytas will advance to the next stage with a win in next week’s deciding fixture – or a loss by fewer than 11 points. Trailing the entire game, Donetsk pulled to within 22-20 in the second quarter and 63-59 in the fourth, but Rytas always had the answer. The hosts tallied more rebounds, two-point attempts and assists, adding up to overall dominance. Ivan Radenovic led Donetsk with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Ramel Currey, Vojdan Stojanovski and Vule Avdalovic contributed 10 points apiece.
Scoring opened slowly as Arturas Jomantas gave Lietuvos Rytas a 6-4 margin at the first quarter's midpoint. After the Lawrence Roberts of Rytas and Vojdan Stojanovski of Donetsk exchanged baskets, Jomantas buried a triple to increase the lead to 11-7. The hosts stayed in control, reeling off a 7-2 run, featuring a three-pointer by Renaldas Seibutis, to the end the first quarter with an 18-9 lead. Mindaugas Katelynas hit a running one-hander along the baseline for Rytas early in the second quarter. But then the Avdalovic scored 5 points on a triple and layup for the visitors, Radenvoic hit 2 straight two-pointers as the visitors cut the deficit to 22-18. Avdalovic added 2 free throws, but the hosts scored on a put-back by Roberts and a mid-range jumper by Babrauskas at 26-21. After Darnell Jackson scored in low, Babrauskas finished off a steal with a layup and Lawrence added foul shots, pushing the Rytas lead to 32-23. Stojanovksi knocked in a two-pointer and Michael Lee foul shots for Donetsk, but Valanciunas hustled for a basket on offensive glass to keep the hosts out front 36-27. The teams exchanged points in the remaining 2 minutes as Rytas maintained a double digit lead, 41-31, at the half
Seibutis and Valanciunas opened the third quarter with consecutive layups for Rytas while Dmytro Gliebov downed a layup and Stojanovski drilled a three-pointer for Donetsk, moving the score to 45-36. Jomantas nailed a baseline jumper then Tyrese Rice went coast to coast as Rytas boosted the difference to 49-38. After Igor Boyarkin finished off a fastbreak dunk, Babrauskas buried back-to-back three-pointers to give Rytas its biggest margin of the game, 55-40. Viacheslav Kravtsov and Lee scored layups, trying to spark a Donetsk comeback, but Babrauskas hit a mid-range jumper to maintain a comfortable 57-44 lead. Ramel Curry found the range from downtown and Avdalovic added free throws for Donetsk, but Katelynas answered with a baseline jumper as the third quarter ended with Rytas still up big, 61-49. Foul shots and a six-point burst by Radenovic, including a three-pointer, opened the final quarter, cutting the difference to single digits 61-54. After an exchange of points, Curry drained a triple to bring Donetsk even closer 63-59. Rytas got its answer from Jomantas, who knocked down a basket in the paint, and from Roberts, whose deep two-pointer helped Rytas run away again, 69-59. Donetsk continued to push closer, however, as Curry's mid-range bank shot and free throws from Radenovic again cut the deficit to 69-63, however Seibutis and Katelynas answered with consecutive two-pointers for a new double-digit lead, 73-63. The game ended with back-and-forth scoring as Rytas made sure of a sizeable margin, 11 points, heading into next week's rematch.