Since we started this project, we got to know a lot of true Euroleague experts. One of them is Jonas Miklovas of the leading Lithuanian basketball web site BasketNews. I had a few good conversations with Jonas and he offered to give us his view of the Lithuanian teams since he attends every home game of Kaunas and Vilnius. Here are Jonas’ thoughts about the two games. Make sure you read his “random notes” about the Greek teams! He also explains what really happened with Jonas Maciulis and his disqualifying foul.
This year I am blessed to see two Euroleague games of our teams every week. Having watched both of them this week in Vilnius and Kaunas, here are my insights on these games.
Lietuvos rytas was feeling some heat after their loss in the opening round. Being No.1 seed you have to win all home games, it’s simple like that. They didn’t in the first one, losing to Tau Ceramica, so there could be no more mistakes against Aris.
And there wasn’t. Almost. Coach Aleksandr Trifunovic (my favorite for this year’s Coach of the Year award) started the game with Jackson Vroman in the starting lineup. This was some kind of surprise, because he hasn’t done that before. Vroman’s task was simple – take out Jeremiah Massey out of the game.
Vroman stopped Massey right at the beginning. Confused and not able to operate on offense, Aris’ big man was substituted in the middle of first quarter. This was just what Rytas needed. They built respectable margin (42-21) in the second quarter and never looked back.
To be right, I have to mention that Massey finally exploded in the second half, had 19 points and helped to reduce the margin to 9 points (72-63). But then coach Gordon Herbert had his show – technical foul for never-ending discussions, Rytas made 5 free throws and that was it.
By the way, with time already ran out, referees called a foul against Massey and gave him a chance to shoot 3 free throws. He missed them all and the final margin is quite impressive 89-74.
People were rocking in Kaunas, too. Zalgiris beat Maccabi on Thursday 101-82, and got their first victory of Top 16.
Esteban Batista was the man in the first half, scoring 18 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in 20 minutes of action. He was doing more than OK filling in Marcus Fizer and Nikola Vujcic shoes. Maccabi was leading midway through the second quarter 40-28, but Zalgiris managed to even the score at 48 before halftime.
Third quarter started with 8 straight points from Jonas Maciulis and Zalgiris got off to lead for good. Marko Popovic and Marcus Brown started hitting threes, and then this happens, you better pack your bags and go home. Maccabi did like that. They fell behind by as much as 29 and reduced the gap only at the end of the game.
The main story of the game, however, was Maciulis’ disqualification. With 3 minutes remaining he hit Omri Caspi and referee decided that’s unsportsmanlike and sent Maciulis off. He finished the game watching in the locker room. I didn’t see the whole episode, but there was nothing close to Marko Milic – Pape Sow knockout. Hopefully, ULEB won’t decide to suspend Maciulis for more games.
This would be too much, because Maciulis had his best game of the season, scoring 22 points (6/11 FGs) and grabbing 7 rebounds. That’s his second game in Top 16 with 20+ points. The guy is starting to get hot.
Next week both our clubs are playing away – Rytas in Istanbul, while Zalgiris in Piraeus.
Some random thoughts after second round:
- Have you noticed, that Greek teams are combined 1-5 after second round. And I am not sure, if that only victory was really a Greek team win. I would give to the mighty URT (ULEB referees team).
- Former Group A teams so far are rocking in Top 16. Three of them (Montepaschi, TAU and CSKA) are leading their respective groups in Top 16.
- Is it the end for Malaga? After going 10-4 in group B, now they are 0-2 and CSKA is coming to town next week.
- Forget Malaga, Panathinaikos is in bigger trouble. Next week they are going to undefeated Siena. Definitely the match of the week!
Great thoughts of Jonas. What do you think about these “random” thoughts?