ALBA rolls on the road as Zalgiris loses again
ALBA Berlin stayed strong on the road to claim a 71-79 victory over still winless Zalgiris Kaunas on Friday night. ALBA dominated the early stages and led by 13 points in the first quarter. Zalgiris tried to respond but could never take the lead, and ALBA enjoyed several double digit advantages in the third quarter. The home team kept competing, but never got close enough to seriously threaten the visitor’s victory. Marcus Eriksson led ALBA with 16 points, while Oscar Da Silva added 15. Luke Sikma had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, and Ben Lammers scored 10. Tyler Cavanaugh led the resistance for Zalgiris with 17 points, while Janis Strelnieks hit four triples in his tally of 16 points and Lukas Lekavicius added 11. ALBA improves to 3-5, while Zalgiris is still waiting for its first win at 0-8.
The early scoring was shared evenly as Da Silva scored twice for ALBA while Josh Nebo did the same for the host. Eriksson and Maodo Lo made three-pointers, before Louis Olinde added a tip-in for a 6-15 lead. Lammers was on target twice under the basket to complete a 0-12 run, with Zalgiris held scoreless for more than 4 minutes. Marek Blazevic got Zalgiris back on the board, but Tamir Blatt struck from deep to make it 10-22 after ten minutes. Lekavicius pulled the host closer with a three-point play, Niels Giffey added a three-pointer and Arturas Milaknis scored inside as the deficit was reduced to 18-23. Da Silva and Strelnieks traded triples, before Sikma had a three-point play and a three-pointer to make it 21-32. Mantas Kalnietis struck from deep and Strelnieks made a long two, but Eriksson returned with another triple. Cavanaugh scored twice inside and then hit from deep for a personal 7-0 run. Sikma scored off the glass but Cavanaugh stayed hot with another inside score and Nebo added a putback dunk, making it 37-41 at half-time.
Strelnieks opened the second half with a three-pointer, but Sikma, Da Silva and Lo scored inside to keep ALBA ahead. Cavanaugh’s corner three made it 43-47, before Da Silva’s alley-oop slam and Eriksson’s three-pointer made the visitors comfortable again, and Johannes Thiemann restored a double-digit lead, 43-54. Lekavicius and Yovel Zoosman both scored 4 fast points, before 5 points from Strelnieks fixed the score at 52-62 at the end of the third. A slow start to the fourth quarter was followed by a Zalgiris burst as Cavanaugh’s three-point play was followed by a triple from Milaknis, but Blatt struck back from long-range for ALBA. Cavanaugh’s layup kept ALBA hoping, but Eriksson’s floater and a deep two from Lammers made it 62-71 going into the final 3 minutes. Lammers added a layup for another double-digit margin, before Nebo’s alley-oop dunk, another Strelnieks triple and a Lekavicius layup narrowed it to 69-75 in the last minute. But free throws from Eriksson and Lo allowed ALBA to seal the win.
Centurion Eriksson back with a bang
ALBA sharpshooter Marcus Eriksson made his 100th appearance in the competition, and he celebrated the special occasion with a strong early impact, scoring 6 points in the first 5 minutes as the German team raced into a big lead over Zalgiris. He continued to score regularly, finishing with 16 points on 3-of-7 three-point shooting. Eriksson had been stuck on 99 EuroLeague games for a while, having not played since his team’s Round 1 defeat at his former club Barcelona. But he is now finally back in action and already scoring at his usual rapid rate.
Lammers returns with block party
Along with Eriksson, another player returning from injury for ALBA was Ben Lammers, who had also been sidelined since the opening round trip to Barcelona. The American center quickly showed what ALBA had been missing, scoring 4 points and blocking 2 shots in the first quarter. He proceeded to play a full part in the victory over Zalgiris, finishing with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 blocked shots in just over 13 minutes on the floor. With Eriksson and Lammers both back in action, ALBA will be a different proposition in the coming weeks.
Cavanaugh shines in defeat to former team
One Zalgiris player who shone despite Friday’s defeat to visiting ALBA Berlin was big man Tyler Cavanaugh, who delivered the best performance of his EuroLeague career as he went up against his former club. Cavanaugh – who played 19 EuroLeague games for ALBA in the 2019-20 season – registered a new personal best and game-high 17 points on 5-of-7 two-point shooting. He also grabbed 6 rebounds, recorded a steal and dished an assist, as well as playing with physicality as he picked up his fifth foul in the final minute of the game.
Friday, November 5, 2021