By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Zalgiris prevailed in Berlin in a defensive war against ALBA thanks to a late-game push which secured the 66-63 win.
The Lithuanians earned a critical victory in their fight to make the playoffs by fending off ALBA. It was a back-and-forth battle, with six points being the biggest lead, and the outcome was not decided until the last second thanks to a Rolands Smits’ shot.
Zalgiris finally won on the road again, snapping a four-game losing streak, to improve to 14-13. ALBA lost its eighth in the last nine games for a 7-20 record.
“I am very happy about the win and congratulations to my team and our fans. It’s very hard to win here in Berlin against ALBA. It doesn’t matter what position they are in, they play good basketball with a good coach”, said Zalgiris Kaunas head coach Kazys Maksvytis.
Speaking about his team he added: “From our side, it was like a playoff game for us. We’re still fighting for the playoffs, and maybe because of this, we missed a lot of free throws. I am happy that we controlled the game with our defense. If an offensive team like ALBA scores only 63 points, it’s a good result. Of course, offensively we can be much better but we will take this win”.
Isaiah Taylor and Edgaras Ulanovas made critical free throws in the last minute. An incredible three-pointer by Luke Sikma was not enough for the hosts as Rolands Smits was cold-blooded with 1. 1.8 seconds left to secure the win.
Isaiah Taylor led the way with 14 points, while Ulanovas added 10 points. For ALBA, Maodo Lo, Jaleen Smith, and Luke Sikma all had 10 points.
“We have a boat with a lot of holes”
ALBA Berlin head coach Israel Gonzalez spoke about the “holes” of his team: “Congratulations to Zalgiris for the good game they had on defense. We have a boat with a lot of holes. We are always trying to cover the holes but there is always a new one. We defended well today with a very good effort. But we couldn’t play with confidence on offense. We were thinking and trying to limit the number of turnovers. Maybe that made us play with less happiness and we were less confident and didn’t want to take risks. We need to find a balance of rising a lot when we are playing and being conservative. The team right now is having a bad time and I will try anything I can to help it”.
On the other hand, Zalgiris Kaunas forward Achille Polonara admitted that his team also wanted badly this result: “It was a tough moment for us because we had lost the last two games in the EuroLeague. So we are really happy that we won on a tough court against a very good team. And I think we deserve it.”