Laboral runs away from Neptunas for new season's first victory
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria held serve at home to win the first game of the 2014-15 Turkish Airlines Euroleague by 88-69 over visiting Neptunas Klaipeda in Group D on Wednesday. Laboral lived up to the honor of starting the Euroleague season with the only game of the night at home by pulling methodically away from Neptunas to comfortable leads in the second half. Neptunas had hung tough in the first half of its Euroleague debut, but couldn't stop a trio of all-around Laboral performers with more experience. Davis Bertans debuted for the hosts with 20 points, including 4 of 7 three-point shooting, and had 2 blocked shots. Thomas Heurtel scored 13 points, dished 10 assists, matching his Euroleague career high, and made 4 steals. And Fernando San Emeterio has 12 points, 4 assists and 4 steals. Heurtel had more assists and Bertans more blocks than the entire Neptunas team. Donatas Zavackas paced the visitors with 17 points and 7 rebounds, while Simas Galdikas had 11 and 5, respectively, but otherwise Neptunas struggled to do much.
Bertans goes deep for 20-15 Laboral edge
San Emeterio scored the first basket of the new Euroleague season for Laboral on a one-hander inside, but soon Zavackas gave Neptunas a 2-3 lead from long distance. Tornike Shengelia and Bertans, the latter with a monster one-handed dunk on the break, soon had Laboral back in front. Deividas Gailius re-took the lead for Neptunas with a put-back dunk and fastbreak layup before Bertans drilled a triple and Ryan Gomes entered to hit his first Euroleague shot for a 12-7 Laboral lead. Valdas Vasylius came on and scored twice after a timeout, but Bertans struck again from downtown to make it 15-11. Mustafa Shakur and Martynas Mazeika finished drives to get Neptunas within 16-15 before Gomes canned a deep two-pointer and Heurtel finished the quarter with his own jumper to put Laboral ahead 20-15.
Neptunas stays close, then Laboral finishes strong
Arnas Butkevicius opened the second-quarter scoring for Neptunas, but was answered with a jumper by Gomes. Bertans soon returned and drilled his third triple, but Zavackas backed in for a basket to keep Neptunas close. Shengelia rejoined the scoring from long distance to make it 28-21 for the hosts, but defenses took over for the next few minutes, with only Mazeika hitting 3 free throws. Kim Tille scored in close to get Laboral unstuck and then San Emeterio was left alone to make a three-pointer and lift Laboral's lead to its biggest yet, 33-24. Neptunas refused to wilt, however. Galdikas downed 2 free throws before dunking a nice feed from Shakur at 33-28. Zavackas answered free throws by Shengelia with an easy layup, but again Heurtel ruled the end of the quarter, feeding Colton Iverson for an easy dunk and a 37-30 halftime advantage for Laboral.
San Emeterio, Laboral keep Neptunas at bay
Gailius and Mazeika made nifty drives to open the second half for Neptunas, but between them, Bertans measured and buried his fourth three-pointer. When D.J. White put-back a miss and Heurtel's no-look pass found Shengelia alone on the break, Laboral suddenly had its biggest edge, 44-34. Heurtel added a layup, forcing a Neptunas timeout, after which Zavackas rallied the visitors with free throws followed by a long triple to make it 48-39. Bertans dropped a mid-range jumper to restore a double-digit lead and soon Orlando Johnson became Laboral's fourth three-point striker to make it 53-40. Egidijus Dimsa came on for 2 layups and Butkevicius hit a free throw to lower the difference again to 53-45. Johnson and Doron Perkins hit 4 of 4 free throws before Justus Sinica dropped the third triple of the game for Neptunas. San Emeterio made a tough layup and Kim Tille traded free throws with Mindaugas Girdziunas as Laboral kept its double-digit lead, 61-50, after 30 minutes.
Heurtel pushes Laboral out of reach
Tille's short jumper and a gutsy drive by San Emeterio upped the difference to its widest of the game, 65-60, to start the fourth quarter. Vasylius followed up a miss for Neptunas, but soon Laboral pulled away as the French connection of Heurtel and Fabien Causeur hooked up for a triple. Galdikas kept getting to the free throw line but Heurtel kept driving his team in front as the lead surpassed 20 points. Neptunas could do nothing after that but match baskets the rest of the way. Heurtel completed his performance with a 10th assist to Iverson and his own three-pointer, all of which was more than enough for Laboral to walk home with a solid 88-69 victory to start the season.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014