VILNIUS, Lithuania– Lietuvos Rytas kept their Euroleague hopes alive on Thursday night, with a must win victory at home while Zalgiris were able to maintain second spot in their pool with another away win.
Playing in Europe’s premier club competition, the Euroleague, Lietuvos Rytas claimed their biggest win of their campaign to date, defeating Cholet 92-80 denying Cholet their ticket to the next round for another week while also keeping their hopes of advancing alive. A loss to Cholet would have ended Lietuvos Rytas chances of making the final 16, while seeing Cholet advance.
Led by Martynas Gecevicius’ 19 points, Lietuvos Rytas controlled the game from the outset, with their lead increasing slightly every quarter.
One of Lietuvos Rytas’ biggest woes this season has been a lack of genuine depth off the bench, with trainer Aleksander Trifunovic relying on big minutes from his starting lineup to get his team the victory.
Milko Bjelica with 18 points and Cemal Nalga and Kenan Bajramovic, who both claimed 16 points were the other prominent scorers for the hosts.
Playing against one of Europe’s strongest teams, Regal FCB next week means Lietuvos Rytas will need to pull out one of their biggest performances in a number of seasons if they are to remain in contention.
The news was somewhat better for their countrymen, Zalgiris from Kaunas who bet Asseco Prokom 72-69 away from home to remain second in their group and a strong possibility of moving into the final 16. Had other games gone accordingly on Thursday, Zalgiris could have already booked their spot but will now have to wait at least another week before knowing their fate.
Zalgiris needed to rely on solid shooting from the majority of their roster with 10 of their 12 players contributing to the score sheet.
Down by a point with less than a minute remaining, layups from Paulius Jankunas and Martynas Pocius in the dying seconds were enough to seal the hard fought victory for Zalgiris.
Martynas Pocius and Travis Watson finished as the only Zalgiris players in double figures, both posting 16 points.