Zalgiris wins LKL season opener 26
Zalgiris Kaunas started the Lithuanian Basketball League with a road win against CBet Jonava 86-80 (27-24, 20-16, 25-18, 14-22).
Decisive 10 minutes started with free throws from both clubs. After that, CBet organized a spurt, where Anderson was the main go-to guy. He hit two threes in a row and cut the deficit to just 6 points (78-72).
Zalgiris had an 8-point cushion in the middle of the fourth quarter (80-72) but CBet struck again and reduced the margin to 4 points with 1:44 to play (84-80) thanks to Lecomte. However, Lekavicus stole the ball and scored an easy two. Zalgiris got crucial stops to secure the tough victory.
“That they didn’t win a single match – it’s only worse for us,” said Seskus (head coach of CBet) before the confrontation with the LKL champions. “They know they are not in optimal shape. For them, a loss against us would be very painful, so they will definitely come with full motivation.”
Schiller’s team came out with full motivation from the first second but LKL debutants, CBet Jonava, were worthy of praise. They started the game strong with a 12-6 spurt. Saulys and Lecomte generated 10 points out of CBet’s 12 (each scored 5).
However, Zalgiris answered with an 8-0 run thanks to Ulanovas and Cavanaugh treys (17-15). Ulanovas, Giffey, and Lekavicius continued successful Zalgiris stretch but CBet did not retreat. Kaunas’ club was in front by 3 points after 10 minutes of playing time (27-24). Cavanaugh opened the season with 10 points in the first quarter.
At the start of the second period, Lauvergne made an alley-oop dunk, while Mudiay added a three-point shot. Zalgiris’ advantage reached 9 points (32-24).
Then both teams were exchanging with efficient attacks. Although CBet made a 13-5 run, cutting the deficit to 3 points (43-40), Zalgiris finished the quarter on a high note (47-40). Ulanovas led the way for the Lithuanian powerhouse, scoring 11 points in the first half.
In the third period, both teams played fast-paced basketball. It was more suitable for Zalgiris, as the Lithuanian champions ran away by 16 points (65-49). Lauvergne was dominant under the baskets, while Strelnieks was hitting shots (7 points). Zalgiris managed to retain their lead till the end of the quarter. (72-58).
Zalgiris: Lukas Lekavicius 18 (3 REB, 3 AST), Edgaras Ulanovas 14 (4 AST), Joffrey Lauvergne 13 (9 REB), Tyler Cavanaugh 10 (4 REB), Niels Giffey 9 (4 REB), Janis Strelnieks 9 (4 AST).
CBet: Lachlan Anderson 20 (7/6 3FG, 4 REB), Emmanuel Lecomte 16 (7 AST), Juan Palacios 12 (7 REB), Evaldas Saulys 12 (3 REB), Edvinas Seskus 9 (2 AST).