U18 Zalgiris Kaunas won the battle of Lithuania with an 87-76 victory over U18 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius to capture its third straight Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT Qualifying Tournament – Kaunas title and book a ticket to the EB ANGT Finals in Berlin this spring. Isaiah Hartenstein was named tournament MVP, as he collected 29 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks to lead Zalgiris, which won its fourth ANGT Kaunas event following crowns in 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2014-15 – all of them without a defeat. All-Tournament selection Arnas Velicka picked up 18 points and 16 assists for Zalgiris, the two-time ANGT Finals champion from 2002-03 and 2006-07. Zalgiris reaches its 12th ANGT Finals in 14 editions. Zalgiris joins U18 Mega Leks Belgrade and U18 Real Madrid, who won the EB ANGT Qualifying Tournament - Torneo Citta di Roma and EB ANGT Qualifying Tournament - Torneig de Bàsquet Junior Ciutat de L'Hospitalet respectively. Rytas, the 2012 continental champion, lost its first game of the tournament despite Aitis Pilauskas scoring 23 points with 4 three-pointers while Tadas Vaiciunas and All-Tournament member Grantas Vasiliauskas both added 15 points and Karolis Giedraitis had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals.
Justinas Marcinkevicius started the scoring in the title game for Zalgiris with Vitalijus Kozys evening it, Pilauskas giving Rytas its first lead and Vasiliauskas making it 2-6. Hartenstein scored the next 8 points and Mantvydas Zukauskas had Zalgiris up 12-6. The advantage increased to 17-8 after 3 straight points from Velicka. Vaiciunas and Vasiliauskas answered with back-to-back three-balls to trim it to 18-14. But Rytas could not come up with stops defensively as Velicka drained a long three-ball and 2 free throws and Lukas Uleckas hit a jumper at the buzzer to extend the lead to 31-17 after 10 minutes. Zalgiris kept Rytas off the scoring board for the first 3 minutes of the second quarter and extended the cushion to 36-17. Vaiciunas finally scored for Rytas on a put-back and two Vitalijus Kozys free throws made it 39-23. Ignas Sargiunas answered with a three-ball for Zalgiris and Zukauskas’s three-pointer pushed the margin to 48-27. Rytas was able to hold Zalgiris scoreless for the final 3 minutes of the half and scored 6 straight points to trail 48-33 at intermission.
Hartenstein upped the lead to 50-33 to start the second half. But Rytas came out of the break hot with 4 points from Vasiliauskas points and two three-pointers from Pilauskas to cut the deficit to 52-43. But Zalgiris put the clamps on defensively, keeping Rytas scoreless for almost 3 minutes and pushing the lead to 57-43. Both teams produced on offense and Rytas did not let Zalgiris pull away as four straight points made it 61-52. Uleckas did knock down a three-ball to push the cushion to 66-52 but Pilauskas nailed a long three-pointer at the buzzer and Rytas trailed 66-55 after 30 minutes. Vaiciunas’ free throw to start the fourth quarter got the gap to 10 points and Giedraitis’ jumper cut it to 69-60 with 7 minutes to play. Dziugas Slavinskas was given a technical foul and Pilauskas hit the free throw and nailed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession to make it a 5-point game, 71-66 with 5 minutes left. But Hartenstein came right back down and drained a triple of his own and a pair of free throws each by Velicka and Sargiunas had the lead up to 78-67. And the advantage grew to 81-69 on Sargiunas’ corner three with 3 minutes left. Rytas would not go away as Vaiciunas nailed a three-ball and another basket to cut the deficit to 82-76 with 2 minutes remaining. Velicka, Hartenstein and Tadas Pazera combined for 4 of 6 from the line in the next three possessions to keep the lead at double digits, 86-76 with 50 seconds left – and decide the game.
Sunday, January 17, 2016