Lietkabelis holds on to top Cluj, 75-77
7Bet-Lietkabelis Panevezys completed a regular-season sweep of U-BT Cluj-Napoca on Tuesday evening, winning 75-77 on the road at BTarena. As a result of this victory, Lietkabelis improved to 6-7 and Cluj dropped to 4-9, meaning there is now a two-game gap between eighth and ninth in Group A.
Gediminas Orelik led the way for Lietkabelis with 20 points, as he followed on from his 27-point performance in Round 12. Kristian Kullamae scored 13 points, including a free throw in the final second of the game, and Vytenis Lipkevicius added 12. For Cluj, Nemanja Gordic and Leonardo Meindl finished with 17 and 14 points, respectively.
The first quarter saw the momentum swing between the teams in the opening five minutes, but a 9-0 run by Cluj saw it open a 6-point lead, 14-8, with 4:11 remaining. Lietkabelis remained calm and chipped into the deficit, but an Emanuel Cate dunk made it a 6-point game once again, 19-13. After that, though, Lietkabelis went on a 6-0 run to close the quarter and tie the game at 19-19.
It was a similar story in the second quarter of play, as Cluj made a better start and was able to open a game-high 7-point advantage, 28-21, after the first three minutes. Lietkabelis responded, but Cluj twice reopened that same lead, 30-23 and 32-25. Then, Orelik scored 5 straight points to provide a spark for the visitors, 32-30. Lietkabelis levelled the score, 34-34 and 36-36, before Kullamae gave the Lithuanian team its first lead of the quarter with 36 seconds left. Gordic hit back with a triple, but Kullamae closed the first half with a triple of his own to ensure his side went into the break ahead, 39-41.
Lietkabelis went 1-for-12 from three-point territory in the first half, with Kullamae's late make in the second quarter being its only made three, yet the visitors saw 5 triples fall in the third quarter. This time, it was Lietkabelis that impressed early in the quarter, but Cluj tied it up at 48-48 with just under seven minutes to go. From there, though, Lietkabelis began to take control again. To close the quarter, Orelik continued his impressive night by scoring a sidestep three-pointer to make it a 10-point game, 54-64.
The scoring dried up somewhat in the fourth, and Cluj was unable to capitalize. In the opening 3:30, the hosts were only able to outscore Lietkabelis 6-4 to make it a 8-point ball game, 60-68. From there, however, Cluj went on a 5-0 run, before Kullamae and Lipkevicius hit a triple each to restore Lietkabelis's advantage, 65-74. In the final 1:51, though, Cluj scored 10 points to Lietkabelis's 2 as it got to within 1 point, 75-76. However, the win was sealed from the line for Lietkabelis, as Kullamae converted a free throw, 75-77.