Shields leads Baskonia to big road win
KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz opened the 2019-20 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season with a prestigious road win by downing Zalgiris Kaunas 58-70- in front of a sellout crowd of 15,151 fans at Zalgirio Arena on Friday. Baskonia beat Zalgiris in Kaunas for the third consecutive season. Shavon Shields led the winners with 19 points. Toko Shengelia added 13 while Matt Janning and Luca Vildoza each had 10 for Baskonia. Lukas Lekavicius and Marius Grigonis led Zalgiris with 10 points apiece. Shields helped Baskonia to an early 9-13 lead but Edgaras Ulanovas and Jock Landale helped Zalgiris tie the game, 19-19, after 10 minutes. Shields kept pacing the guests, getting help from Janning and Vildoza to forge a 30-37 margin at halftime. Shengelia shined after the break and Janning took over late in the third quarter for a 46-55 Baskonia margin after 30 minutes. Zalgiris managed to get within 55-59 but Baskonia kept its composure through strong defense and cruised to a well-deserved win.
Shields got Baskonia going with a jumper which Patricio Garino followed with a three-pointer for a 2-5 lead. Zach LeDay stepped up with a turnaround jumper and Grigonis struck from downtown to tie the game, 7-7. Vildoza and Shields each hit a mid-range shot before a driving layup by Shengelia restored a 9-13 Baskonia lead. Baskonia reached its foul limit Zalgiris made the most out of it as free throws by LeDay and Ulanovas ignited an 8-0 run that Landale capped with a jump hook at 17-13. Shields stepped up for the guests and a layup by Pierria Henry tied it, 19-19, after 10 minutes. Achille Polonara hit a fallaway jumper early in the second quarter and Michael Eric erased Arturas Milaknis's triple with a layup-plus-free throw good for a 22-24 Baskonia edge. Grigonis buried a three-pointer but Shields singlehandedly kept the guests ahead, 25-28. Janning, Shields and Vildoza swished a three-pointer apiece to make it a double-digit game, 27-37. Grigonis answered from downtown to get Zalgiris within 30-37 at halftime. Lekavicius and Landale tried to change things for the hosts after the break but an unstoppable Shengelia and a put-back dunk by Youssoupha Fall made Zalgiris call timeout at 34-46. Landale and Ulanovas rescued Zalgiris, and Grigonis gave the hosts hope at 42-48. Thomas Walkup and LeDay each hit a one-handed shot but Janning followed a triple with a jumper for a 46-55 Baskonia lead after 30 minutes. Milaknis struck twice from downtown early in the fourth quarter and Landale added another triple that brought Zalgiris within 55-59. Shengelia scored in penetration and a three-point play by Vildoza gave Baskonia fresh air at 55-64. Shields and Vildoza kept pacing Baskonia until a layup by Shengelia rounded out the guests' win in style.
Vildoza did a little bit of everything to make his team secure a big road win. He finished the game with 10 points, 3 rebounds, a game-high 5 assists, 2 steals and 4 fouls drawn, good for a performance index rating of 17.
The guests' defense made the difference in crunch time. Zalgiris was limited to just 3 points in the final 8 minutes. The hosts had managed to get within 55-59 with 8 minutes to go but only made 1 of their next 13 shots.
Two-point shots and blocks made the difference in the game. Zalgiris was limited to just 13-of-36 two-point shooting (36.1%) – its lowest mark at home since January 2015. Baskonia hit 22-of-35 shots inside the arc (62.9%). Fall had to do a lot with it; he had 5 blocks and changed a lot of shots.
Did you notice?
The game also marked Zalgiris' 75th anniversary. To commemorate its 75 years of history, Zalgiris wore special, 1980s-inspired jerseys and warm-up T-shirts. At halftime, there was a look back at the team's most glorious history and greatest wins.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action on Friday, October 11. Zalgiris visits AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan at 20:45 CET. Milan features two former Zalgiris players, Arturas Gudaitis and Aaron White. At 19:00 CET, Baskonia visits Khimki Moscow Region, featuring a former team member, Janis Timma.
Friday, October 4, 2019