Reyer edges Rytas to tie for regular season's best record
Umana Reyer Venice finished the first round of the 7DAYS EuroCup in style after beating Rytas Vilnius 76-74 at Palasport Taliercio on Wednesday. The Italian champs, who had already secured first place in Group B, tied Segafedo Virtus Bologna for the best winning record in the regular season at 8-2, while Rytas dropped to 4-6 to finish in fourth place. Reyer led the way for almost the entire game, reaching an 11-point difference in the last quarter, but Rytas never gave up and managed to tie the game at 74-74 before a pull-up jumper by Ariel Filloy in the last minute decided the outcome. Stefano Tonut led all scorers with 14 points, while Filloy had 13 and 5 assists and Ike Udanoh contributed 10 points and 7 rebounds for the winners. Martynas Echodas posted 13 points plus 6 rebounds, followed with Deividas Sirvydis and Edmantas Bendzius with 12 and 10 points, respectively, in a losing effort.
The visitors got early three-pointers by Bendzius for a 4-6 lead, but the Italian champs adjusted their defense quickly to prevent any other Rytas player but Evaldas Kayris from contributing on offense. With switching defenses, moving the ball and involving up to six different players in scoring, Reyer was able to build a 21-13 edge at the end of the first quarter. The gap got bigger in the second, as Udanoh capped a nice assist by Davide Casarin with a strong layup for a 27-16 lead. Rytas didn’t surrender, though, and increased its defensive performance to keep Reyer scoreless for almost 5 minutes, good enough to tie the game again, 27-27, with 3 minutes to go in the half. A three-point play by Filloy and a nice fast-break behind-the-back assist from Udanoh to Bruno Cerella got Reyer back in charge, 36-31, but Rytas struck back guided by Echodas to reach halftime trailing 38-36.
Echodas and Arnas Butkevicius gave Rytas its first lead, 38-40, right after the break, while Austin Daye and Pako Cruz traded baskets later to keep the game tight, 46-46. Filloy connected from deep, followed by a nice hook shot by Francesco Pellegrino and a couple of layups by Tonut to put Reyer ahead, 55-48. Rytas timeout didn’t change the trend, as the hosts found unexpected help from unusual contributors Casarin and Pellegrino to finish the third quarter in control 63-54. Pellegrino scored inside for a game-high 11-points lead, but Echodas and Sirvydis combined to spark a 0-8 run to bring Rytas within 65-62. It was Cerella, again, who took over with a three to keep the hosts calm, followed by another bomb from the corner by Valerio Mazzola to make it 71-64 midway through the last quarter. Offensive rebounding and free throws allowed Rytas to stay alive and enter the last 2 minutes down 71-69 until Filloy came to the rescue with a big three for Reyer. Marek Blazevic scored inside before Syrvidis hit a corner three to tie it 74-74 with 1 minute to go, but the cold-blooded Filloy came up big with a pull-up jumper with 48 seconds to go as Bendzius missed the last three-point attempt at the buzzer.
When it matters the most
The Italian champs were not having a good night from the perimeter. They entered the last quarter having hit just a pair of threes, but with the game on the line, Bruno Cerella, Valerio Mazzola and Ariel Filloy nailed consecutive three-pointers to help Reyes collect its eighth straight win.
Coach, we can play
Umana Reyer Venice missed Julyan Stone and Gasper Vidmar, while other regular contributors like Mitchell Watt and Jeremy Chappel saw limited playing time in the game. But it was not a problem in the end, as Davide Casarin, Francesco Pellegrino and Valerio Mazzola, who hadn’t scored a single point this season, ended up combining for 15 points.
Rytas Vilnius dominated the offensive glass, grabbing 16 boards against Reyer’s defense and getting a ton of extra possessions. Also, its players drew 26 fouls -against Reyer’s 11- and got 19 more free throw shots, but they couldn’t turn it into a factor to claim the victory.
Umana Reyer Venezia and Rytas Vilnius will return to 7DAYS EuroCup action when the Top 16 begins in the second week of January.
Wednesday, December 18, 2019