Keenan Evans goes off, Zalgiris wins big in Valencia

2024-01-09T22:42:07+00:00 2024-01-10T16:17:17+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

09/Jan/24 22:42

Zalgiris managed to bring down the famed Valencia defense thanks to Keenan Evans’ shooting.

By Eurohoops team/

Keenan Evans hit a career-high six triples on nine attempts and finished with 24 points as Zalgiris Kaunas beat Valencia 84 – 79 on the road to register one of its biggest victories this season.

“Hard-fought game by my teammates,” Evans said.  Zalgiris is now 7 – 13 and 2-1 after Andrea Trinchieri took over. “They instill confidence in me to handle the ball in this kind of situations. We came out with the victory. Had some tough defensive plays, a couple of questionable calls but I’m happy we got the win.”

Half of Evans’ 3-pointers arrived in the last seven minutes, including the go-ahead bucket for the 74 – 75 and the one that put Zalgiris up 76 – 80 with 1:14 to play.

Valencia approached 79 – 80 after a free throw from an Evans’ technical foul and then Brady Manek quickly gave Zalgiris a 3-point lead again. Semi Ojeleye missed a game-tying attempt from afar and, on the other end, Edgaras Ulanovas made a pair from the line to ice his team’s victory.

“We played with great character and basketball personality,” said Trinchieri. “We’re still missing some basketball things that we couldn’t have because we’re not practicing. But it’s more important that we have energy, mental toughness and players who want to shoot the ball.” The Italian coach later praised Evans for his… “juevos” in the post-game presser.

Ulanovas contributed 14 points plus eight rebounds to help Zalgiris win a game of some notable ups and downs for both sides. Valencia trailed 42 – 48 at halftime but stormed out of the locker room to get a 64 – 59 advantage a bit before the end of the third quarter.

Zalgiris reclaimed a lead and the two teams traded blows in a very tight clash down the stretch before Evans’ decisive shots.

Brandon Davies (18 points, five rebounds) and Chris Jones (13 points) scored in double figures from a Valencia team that shot the ball poorly from the perimeter (5-17) and lacked the kind of a difference-maker that Evans was for Zalgiris.

“Evans scored two big three,” said Valencia coach Alex Mumbru after his team lost in a second consecutive very close game after the one vs. Panathinakos. The Taronja dropped to 10 – 10. “Small details decide the game when the score is tight. They scored and we missed some important offense in the last minutes. We need to continue working.”