The Lithuanian vice-champions, Neptunas from Klaipeda, gained an important victory - they broke the basketball players from Lietuvos Rytas, who played at home, with the score of 90:94 (26:20, 10:19, 25:19, 20:23, 9:13) after 45 minutes of fighting.
The Neptunites proved their Euroleague experience and got their revenge for Lietuvos Rytas' victory in the match of the first round in Klaipeda with the score of 65:73.
An aggressive and emotional fight went on in Vilnius for a long time, and it cost a lot of nerves.
The hosts of the court played better in the first half, winning the first quarter with the score of 26:20, but the basketball players from Neptunas regained their advantage with the score of 36:39 before the half-time break.
The basketball players from Neptunas started the third quarter with a run of 2:6 and had a seven point advantage - 38:45.
Gediminas Orelikas, a basketball player from Lietuvos Rytas took the initiative and Lietuvos Rytas were very close in the score - 46:47. Emotions boiled over and Mustafa Shakur, a foreign player from Neptunas, got a technical foul as well as the Neptunas head coach, Kazys Maksvytis, who disagreed with this decision. So, the basketball players from Vilnius managed to get the advantage with the score of 50:47.
Fortunately, the Neptunites showed their character, fought with all their might and it took the advantage again. Before the last minute of the match, the Neptunas captain, Martynas Mazeika, scored four consecutive free throws and put his team in the lead with the score of 78:81.
However, the sniper of Lietuvos Rytas, Martynas Gecevicius, managed to score a downtown shot and put the team in overtime with the score of 81:81 during the last seconds of the match.
The basketball players from Klaipeda started overtime with five consecutive points - 81:86. Lietuvos Rytas reduced the deficit to a minimum with the score of 86:87, but the hero of this match, Deividas Gailius, had the last word scoring five free throws out of six and the basketball players from Vilnius did not have any chances to get back.
In total, Deividas Gailius contributed 27 points to the victory, Martynas Mazeika scored 19 points (7 rebounds, 3 assists), Mustafa Shakur 10 points, Vytautas Sarakauskas 10 points (6 rebounds), Arnas Butkevicius 7 points.
Gediminas Orelikas, scoring 24 points, Mindaugas Lukauskis 16 points, Ksistofas Lavrinovicius 15 points, and Adas Juskevicius 11 points were the highest scoring players in the Lietuvos Rytas team.
Neptunas from Klaipeda won the rebounds - 41:32.
Kazys Maksvytis (Neptunas head coach): "We rejoice over the victory, because Lietuvos Rytas won in our arena during the first round. It was an excellent revenge, filled with many emotions. The offensive dominated in the match, so I was angry about the defence. It cost a lot of nerves, much intrigue, but I am glad that we were the winners in this war of nerves. In comparison with the first match, we adjusted to the opponents' playing style. They often replace their defended players and we got ready for it. I am glad about our successful offensive, which failed in the first match. I was afraid that the rest period would get us out of rhythm. But today, though there was much wasted play, we ran and fought, and this break was good for us. I am not going to comment on the referees' job in public. There were a lot of emotions, good atmosphere, but I don't want to say anything about the technical fouls."
Virginijus Seskus (Lietuvos Rytas head coach): "One team had to spoil the New Year holiday. We spoiled it. Some people may be right talking about this rest period, they did not work to our advantage. Not all the players used these rest days well. The most obvious thing was that only 50 per cent performance was achieved in our defence. Neptunas always score a lot of points and we highlighted it. The non-execution of our homework put our nose out of joint. In the beginning we played well through our centres, but this plan did not work later on. We missed many shots: easy lay-ups and jumpers, when you should score these two points easily. The success factor was also important in overtime. Travis could not play, so Lukauskis had to play 39 minutes. Billy Baron has been slightly out of form recently. So, we could not make the usual rotations. I may say for the first time in this season that the teams should play on the court, but not the referees. I think that they try to get into the play too much. Neptunas got 14 offensive rebounds, so Valeika perhaps had to start playing earlier. We have spoiled our holidays, so we will have to work harder. In the last attack, Antanas had to take the ball near the arc and we wanted Orelikas to have the ball against a smaller defender, but we nearly lost the ball and the whole attack went down the drain. If I had known it would end in a failure, we would have just played "pick and roll", but I thought we would succeed at that time."
It has not been the last Neptunas match in 2014 - the basketball players, coached by Kazys Maksvytis, will play against Juventus in Utena on 30 December (on Tuesday).
The Eurocup after the New Year
Neptunas will continue their play in the EuroCup tournament after the New Year. The Neptunites will play against the Istanbul Besiktas (Turkey), Paris Levallois (France) and Ismir Pinar Karsiyaka (Turkey) teams in group M in the Last 32 stage.
The start of the Last 32 round is on 6 January, and the finish is on 11 February. The two best teams in each group will enter the Last 8 stage.
Neptunas will play their first EuroCup match against the Paris Levallois team at the Svyturys arena on 7 January (on Wednesday) at 7 pm. Before this match, on 4 January (on Sunday) Neptunas will play against Mazeikiai at the Svyturys arena in the LKL championship.
You can buy advance tickets to a gripping LKL match between Neptunas and Zalgiris from Kaunas, which will be held at the Svyturys arena on 18 January (on Sunday) at 4:15 pm. The administration of the Neptunas club highlights that the Neptunas subscriptions also apply in the EuroCup matches, so the people who have them, don't need to buy the tickets.
KKneptunas.lt, Paulius Matulevicius, and BasketNews.lt information, Sarunas Duzinas' photos.
- Statistika: For game statistics click here