«Astana» Astana, Kazakhstan vs. «Lietuvos Rytas» Vilnius, Lithuania
The season begins with a thriller in Astana!
The 4th tournament of the VTB United League has begun! And the very first game of the season between Astana and Lietuvos Rytas became a stunning thriller. The hosts clinched the victory right at the end and defeated last year’s bronze team – 72:71!
In the beginning the away team was getting used to the atmosphere of the court. But then they managed to take the game under control. The new players of Rytas started to shine – Janis Blums scored 20 points in the 1st half and Nemanja Nedovic superb when holding a ball. Astana managed to stay close because of Americans Rawl Marshall with Jerry Jonson were doing a good job alongside the center from Greece Gliniadakis who was furious in defense. The second quarter was a real nightmare for the home side. The team couldn’t score for 4 minutes. The Lithuanian team got the lead by 6-8 points and seemed to win it.
But at the end of the 3rd quarter the game got very much in the balance. The away team’s shooting broke down and the home side took advantage in fast breaks. Every time Bonicholli’s team lacked a whisker to take the lead. The Lithuanians could clinch a win but in the decisive moment Babrauskas missed two free throws and Astana took a chance for winning the game.
Jerry Jonson. His play in transition at the very end of the game seemed a real gamble. While his team down by 1 he rushed to the rim and got trapped by a bunch of hands. The refs saw a foul and Jerry was deadly from the free throw line bringing his team the first victory in the season.
The match figures
A zero – that’s the score of one of the leaders of Lietuvos Rytas – Steponas Babrauskas. The guard played 22 minutes and missed all 5 his shots adding 2 crucial free throws in the end of the game.
- It’s hard to say something. The winners were lucky to clinch a victory. I’m extremely disappointed now. One of the most experienced players missed twice from the free throw line, - said Rytas head coach Alexander Jikic.
- Congratulations to our opponents on playing a solid game. We have just beaten the Eurocup and Lithuanian League finalist. Our defense made the difference in the 2nd half. That game was a key moment of our season. And if we lost today we’d have much less chances of making playoffs, - said Astana head coach Mateo Bonicholli.
The best players
Lietuvos Rytas: Janis Blums – 22 pts, 4 rebounds, 4 assists.
Astana: Rawl Marshall – 17 pts, 9 rebounds.