By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Lukas Lekavicius scored 21 points and dished out five assists on his birthday as Zalgiris Kaunas beat Alba Berlin 96 – 86 to retain its slim mathematical chances for the EuroLeague playoffs. The Kaunas side is now 16 – 16 and one win away from the postseason zone.
“It feels good,” Lekavicius said. “Usually, I have bad games on my birthday. I’ve had some games before, so I’m happy with the win. We played really well, especially the second half. We fixed our defense and that was the key. We didn’t change anything tactically, we just were more aggressive with more energy. [The win] was important for our psychology. It’s always better to win than to lose.”
Zalgiris trailed 41 – 51 at halftime but dominated the third period 27 – 10 to establish a lead. Alba got completely overwhelmed by its opponents and found themselves down by even 21 points, when the hosts made it 89 – 68 halfway through the fourth period.
Alba just tried and managed to reduce that deficit in the remaining minutes, as the final result dropped them to 11-21 and the 15th place. Marcus Eriksson had 19 points, Peyton Siva finished with 16 points and six assists while Jayson Granger scored 15 points for the Albatrosses.
“Congratulations to Zalgiris,” Alba coach Aito Garcia Reneses said. “They played a very good game with very good energy, defense and a high percentage on three-pointers. We started playing well, but afterward, we didn’t play well on offense against their defense.”
Apart from Lekavicius, Thomas Walkup contributed 15 points plus five assists and Martin Gebel with Karolis Lukosiunas scored 12 apiece.
Lekavicius’ and Geben’s performances
Zalgiris Kaunas coach Martin Schiller made a special mention to Lekavicius and Geben for their output.
“Congratulations to Lukas [Lekavicius] on his birthday. I thought Lukas’s game was made to attack those drop coverages with Christ Koumadaje in the hole because he has the floater and the mid-range. And then if he starts hitting threes, it gets very difficult. I’m very happy he made them. I want to mention Marty Geben, who had a very good game for us. Well deserved. He works hard, he practices hard. He’s a good player. He stepped out of the shadow today and did a very good job.”