Edgaras Ulanovas hits clutch threes as Zalgiris edges Crvena Zvezda

2023-01-20T20:47:24+00:00 2023-01-20T21:29:11+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

20/Jan/23 20:47


Back-to-back three-pointers by Edgaras Ulanovas lift Zalgiris against Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet and Filip Petrusev

By Eurohoops Team/ info@eurohoops.net

An exciting finish fueled by captain Edgaras Ulanovas earned Zalgiris the narrow win, 71-66, overcoming a spirited effort of Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet at Zalgirio Arena Friday evening.

Tucking in the go-ahead triple with 1:01 remaining in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 20 contest, the Kaunas-born small forward knocked in one more long-distance shot for good measure. Later splitting a couple of free throws upped his team-high total to 13 points. The late surge punched in his eighth consecutive double-digit scoring display in the competition.

“We have a lot of things to learn and do better,” noted Ulanovas after the seventh straight win across all competitions, including four in a row in EuroLeague, “We can’t think we can be good at the moment.”

The home side blew an early 12-point advantage. Reduced to catchup mode from late in the third period, Tomas Dimsa tied the game 64-64 with 1:44 on the clock by connecting his first three-pointer of the game, after misfiring the first five attempts. The 29-year-old guard, also originally from Kaunas, ended up with seven points.

“In the end, somebody needs to take responsibility. But I repeat, we need to play much much better to be a contender for the Playoffs,” added the Zalgiris captain in his first reaction to the nail-biter. The second half of his back-to-back triples completed the game-changing 13-0 run.

The team coached by Kazys Maksvytis went up to 12-8, after recently improving its domestic record in Lithuania’s Betsafe LKL to 15-1. A solid run despite running into the injuries of Keenan Evans (Achilles) and Tyler Cavanaugh (back), both sidelines along with Dovydas Giedraitis (illness).

“We had a plan. In the fourth quarter we pass the ball to Ulanovas,” was the more casual approach of Maksvytis, “Our captain was great.”

In earlier key contributions, Italian Achille Polonara put in all of his ten points in the second quarter and Latvian Rolands Smits scored eight of his ten in the first period. Arnas Butkevicius went for seven points and seven rebounds. “The captain put the ball in his hands and sealed the deal,” Butkevicius also credited Ulanovas.

For the visitors, Filip Petrusev led the charge making 7/10 field goals for 16 points, his seventh straight EuroLeague outing with at least 14 points and 13 PIR. But failing to hold on down the stretch shaped a W-L tally of 10-10 and also switched the tiebreaker advantage to Zalgiris. “We are happy twice,” mentioned Maksvytis, “Because we won the game and we won by five points, a bigger difference than our loss in the away game.”

“Tonight, we started bad and soft, also finished bad and soft,” head coach Dusko Ivanovic described how his side’s four-game winning streak on the road was snapped, “When we played our style of defense and patient offense, we had good results. In the last two minutes in offense, we did not have ideas.”

Tallying at least 11 points in his last eight showings, Nemanja Nedovic finished with 11 in Lithuania. Also, Nikola Ivanovic (ribs) played for the first time since Round 10 but did not score, instead recorded four rebounds and three assists in ten minutes. But Ben Bentil picked up an injury with Facundo Campazzo (unregistered) and Hassan Martin (knee) remaining unavailable and sitting out alongside Dalibor Ilic and Miroslav Raduljica.

Belgrade derby coming up

The Eternal derby of Serbia shapes the main highlight of Round 21 of the EuroLeague Regular Season. Red Star will play host to Partizan Mozzart Bet next Friday. A home game against Cedevita Olimpija Monday provides the opportunity to jump to 14-1 in AdmiralBet ABA League.

The Kaunas outfit will welcome Wolves at Zalgirio Arena in the second half of the home-and-away series of the Citadel KMT Quarterfinals Sunday. Back to Europe’s premier club competition and a trip to Greece to face Panathinaikos Thursday.

Photo Credit: EuroleagueBasketball.net

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