The 2017 Lithuanian grand final series commenced with Brock Motum’s Žalgiris Kaunas looking to defend their title against Ben Madgen’s Lietkabelis Panevezys whose team is seeking their first ever championship.
Hosting game 1, Žalgiris gained early control of the contest before Lietkabelis worked their way back into the game in the third term. Using their superior size, the home side dominated the paint to outscore Lietkabelis 46-22 in that area on their way to a 73-67 win. Motum was one of four players to score in double figures for the winners, adding 11 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 25 minutes off the bench. Madgen also was prominent for Lietkabelis, gathering 12 points and 6 rebounds in almost 31 minutes. Game 2 will be hosted by Lietkabelis, and Madgen and his side are going to have to try to limit the damage in the paint while increasing their three-point shooting percentage if they wish to return back to Žalgiris with a tied series.
We caught up with both Motum and Madgen to ask them some questions ahead of their game 1 showdown.
In the opening game of the VTB United League semifinals, Lokomotiv Kuban took on title favourites CSKA Moscow on the road. In a hotly fought contest, is was CSKA who managed to keep their noses in front to record a narrow 101-95 victory behind a brilliant performance from former NBA player Nando De Colo. For Lokomotiv, they fought gallantly in defeat, with Ryan Broekhoff contributing 10 points (2-of-3 3PT), 2 rebounds and 3 steals in a very good performance.
CSKA hosted game 2 and again proved too strong for Lokomotiv, staving off every challenge to prevail 84-71 and take a 2-0 series lead. With virtually nothing separating the sides heading into the fourth quarter, CSKA kicked into another gear to win the final term 21-14 and take the win. Milos Teodosic teamed well with De Colo to do most of the damage for CSKA, countering an MVP-like performance from Broekhoff. The sharpshooting Australian led all scorers with an impressive 24 point outburst, going 7-of-11 from the field and draining 5 triples alongside 5 rebounds. Despite Broekhoff’s heroics, it was not enough to level the series before heading back home for a must-win game 3 and to keep the series alive.
David Andersen and ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne caused a quarterfinal series upset to advance over minor premier Monaco in the French Pro A. In their series-clinching game 3 win, ASVEL got it done from the free throw line, making 24-of-31 to hold off Monaco 74-71. David Andersen came off the bench to play 15 minutes for 6 points and 3 rebounds. Thanks to their 2-1 series win, ASVEL maintained their chance to defend their title and booked a date with Strasbourg – a team that Andersen has previously played for.
Up against Strasbourg on the road, it was the home side who opened strongly. Yet ASVEL continued to chip away to remain in touch. Behind a 23-14 third quarter, ASVEL stormed their way into the lead. While Strasbourg won the final period, it was the visitors who held off the fast finish to come away with a narrow 72-74 win. There was little separating either side, as was reflected in the final score. Unfortunately for Andersen, he did not get to see any time on the court.
In FMP Belgrade’s 89-75 win over cross-town rivals Dynamic Belgrade in Serbia, Jonah Bolden once again impressed. The 6’10 forward compiled 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting with 7 rebounds and 1 assist as he continued his breakout season as a rookie professional. He would not take to the court in FMP’s 56-93 destruction of lowly Spartak. His side remains in outright third place in the standings with an 8-4 record.