It will be Angus Brandt’s BC Neptunas Klaipeda taking on Brock Motum’s BC Zalgiris Kaunas in the Lithuanian 7-game championship series after Neptunas defeated Lietuvos Rytas 72-73 in a thrilling duel to qualify.
After trailing 2-0, Lietuvos Rytas tied the series up at 2-2 to set up a tantalising game five decider. In a display of contrasting styles, Neptunas took their chances from behind the arc (10/24 3PT) while Lietuvos Rytas hit just three three-pointers and went 25/33 at the charity stripe. Brandt played his role for Neptunas in contributing 8 points (4/5 FG), 3 rebounds and 1 assist. The reward for grinding out the tense series is an encounter with the dominant BC Zalgiris Kaunas in the LKL Finals. I will be a tough series for Neptunas, who struggled against Zalgiris all season in losing all four games in the regular season. With Zalgiris sweeping the playoffs thus far, both teams are peaking at the right time of the season.
Brad Newly scored 11 points in Herbalife Gran Canaria’s loss to FIATC Joventut 96-76 in the Spanish ACB. Newley’s performance came as Gran Canaria suffered a dramatic third quarter collapse in which they were outscored 35-19. The Aussie Boomer played 18 minutes and went an impressive 4/5 from the field, also sinking two threes. Newley committed 3 turnovers as Gran Canaria’s shooting was ultimately their undoing, well held by the Joventut defense. It was unfortunate that Gran Canaria faltered so badly in the third quarter as they played solid basketball for the remainder of the contest, battling on in an admirable fashion in the fourth quarter.
Aleks Maric had a very quiet game for Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro in their 64-77 loss to Unicaja Malaga. Maric scored 2 points (1/2 FG), and grabbed 6 rebounds as Unicaja dominated the boards 35-21. With so many extra chances it didn’t matter that Unicaja shot just 27% from three-point range, as they were 25/28 at the line. Obradoiro started the game very well, but faded as the contest went on. The result went to script and that leaves Obradoiro in 15th on the league table with a 10-24 record.
ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne secured the crucial 1-0 lead on the road in their French Pro A semi-final clash with Monaco, taking the win 67-73. ASVEL’s stars stood up, with three players scoring 50 of their 73 points. While Boomer David Andersen scored just 3 points (1/4 FG) in 20 minutes, with his only other contribution to the box score 3 rebounds. ASVEL caught fire from deep (10/18 3PT) and rode it all the way to the win. The game was a tight battle and it came down to a tense final quarter in which ASVEL outscored Monaco 21-26. Ultimately it was not the kind of individual performance Andersen would have been hoping for, but in the playoffs often some players become passengers for a short time, in game one it was Andersen.