By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
Seven players scored in double figures for Real Madrid as the Spanish team beat Zalgiris Kaunas 95 – 82 at home to capture their second straight EuroLeague win. Zalgiris put up a bigger fight in the home of Real than most people would probably expect from the only winless EuroLeague team but didn’t manage to get their first victory.
Even though Real was trying to preserve a double-digit advantage, Zalgiris was managing to pest its opponents and remain close hanks to a fine shooting night (13-31 3-pointers). They came back from a 15-point deficit in the second period to cut Real’s lead at 51 – 45 at the break and then returned from down 10 to approach by a shooting distance, 75 – 72, two minutes into the fourth period.
Real responded with an 11-3 run and pushed back Zalgiris for good down the stretch. The visiting squad fell to 0-9.
The French trio of Guerschon Yabusele (15 points, six rebounds), Thomas Heurtel (12 points, five assists) and Vincent Poirier (12 points for a game-high 23 PIR) led the charge overall in a diverse offensive game for the hosts. Sergio Llull had 13 points (on 3-12 shots) and Edy Tavares provided 10 points plus six rebounds.
“That’s our competition,” Poirier said. “They came here 0-8, they have this underdog mentality. They miss players because they got some injuries. And they are playing Real Madrid, so for sure they come here to win and to give everything they have. In this competition we don’t have bottom or top, every week is a great team. Every game matters and every game is a tough game.”
18-year-old prospect Tristan Vukcevic had seven points in seven minutes, including a powerful poster slam.
Tyler Cavanaugh had 14 points, Lukas Lekavicius posted 12 points plus a career-high 10 assists and Niels Giffey scored 12 as well for Zalgiris. The Lithuanian team lost big man Josh Nebo shortly with an ankle sprain in the last practice before the game, but managed to remain competitive also despite this notable absence.
“Congratulations to coach Laso for the win,” Zalgiris coach Jure Zdovc said. “We knew it would be tough. In the last practice we lost another big guy. But no matter what, we did not come here to lose the game, we came to fight. Believe it or not, I had a really good feeling the whole time we can make a surprise. We were close all the time. We were threatening, we were a few points behind, we just needed a good moment to break this, but we did not. We were a little unlucky, but also we made some forced shots and they punished us immediately. Also, our concentration on defense went down, some players got tired, and we lost again.”
Being prepared for everything
Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso saw this match as a reminder that every match may be a battle and his team can’t underestimate anyone.
“I think the game was not easy like we thought at the beginning, because we knew that we had to play 100 percent defensively if we want to stop this team,” Laso said. “They have a lot of quality, good players, and if you let them play, they are able to create baskets, create situations. We got to be ready, talking about the best or worst team in this league is not easy. Anyone can beat anyone, and you have to be ready to play hard and well every night. And it showed today. We did not play good at moments, and Zalgiris got the advantage. This is something that is a good lesson for us for the future, knowing that everyone is very competitive and we need to play at a high level if we want to continue to get victories.”