By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Marius Grigonis scored a game-high 22 points plus the winning jumper with less than a second to play as Zalgiris Kaunas beat Bayern Munich 74 – 73 to capture its fourth straight victory in EuroLeague.
Nick Weiler-Babb had put Bayern up with with four minutes remaining thanks to the layup-and-one play. His team had returned from down 72 – 67 in the last minute to take the lead but then Grigonis happened.
“It’s a present from God for Christmas,” Grigonis said on his game-winner. “It’s unbelievable. It was the toughest game of the season. They are a really good team. They went at us with a lot of contact. I’m really happy that we won this game because we were winning the whole game. This is the cherry on top.”
Weiler-Babb finished with 16 points, 10 in the last six minutes. Jalen Reynolds posted 17 points and Paul Zipser 14 points for Bayern. The German team had trailed by nine early in the fourth period but responded with a 0 – 10 run to take the advantage. Zalgiris regained the advantage and the game remained close until the very last moments and Grigonis’ decisive basket.
“We did a good job matching their intensity,” Zalgiris coach Martin Schiller said. “We didn’t reward ourselves, we didn’t reward our defense with rebounding the ball. They grabbed too many offensive rebounds. I cannot say that we didn’t fight, but they are strong, they are physical, they work for it hard. That was a little bit difficult for us. But matching the intensity was the key. And then in the end, the basketball has to fall in and making shots helps. When I took the job here, that was the first thing they said: ‘At the end of the game, the ball has to go to Marius Grigonis.’ So, that’s what we planned.”
Arturas Milaknis was the only other player in double figures for Zalgiris, apart from Grigonis.
A good offense that beat a good defense
That was pretty much the essence behind Grigonis’ game-winner, for Bayern Munich coach Andrea Trinchieri.
“Congrats to Zalgiris,” Trinchieri said. “Tough game, gritty game. We had the chance to win; Grigonis hit a big shot. I believe we were solid on defense. He was better on the last possession. Of course, it’s painful to lose like this, but at the end of the day, I believe Zalgiris deserved it because we didn’t show up in the first quarter. It was unbelievable how we didn’t show up. We found a way to play and we even had a chance to win the game, but in the end, single possessions were the key. We had good execution on our last offense, and Grigonis scored a toughly-guarded, contested shot. It is what it is. Let’s move on.”
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball