EuroView: Motum helps Zalgiris earn 6th straight title
Brock Motum and BC Zalgiris Kaunas secured the Lithuanian championship this week, while David Andersen and Brad Newley weren't so lucky in France and Spain.
Zalgiris have earned the LKL title for the sixth consecutive season with a commanding 97-70 win over BC Neptunas Klaipeda. Zalgiris had game five won in the first half, leading 54-31 on the back a disciplined performance. With just 4 turnovers and 41 points off the bench, Zalgiris made light work of the underdogs.
Brock Motum was one of the sparks off the bench, scoring 13 points (5/6 FG) with 4 rebounds and 2 assists in a productive 22 minutes. While Angus Brandt also played 22 minutes for Neptunas, contributing 6 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist in the loss. Zalgiris really were unstoppable on offense, finishing 64% of 2-point attempts and an equally impressive 48% from downtown. The well-oiled machine that is Zalgiris cruised to yet another title after an enthralling series battle with Neptunas.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Uqmc2GjFg The series was tightly contested with Zalgiris taking the ascendancy in game three, which ended up being the focal point of the entire match-up. Rebounding from a heavy defeat in game two, they completely outplayed Neptunas 78-54 at home. Brock Motum hit two important three-pointers on his way to 8 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist as the bench unit combined for 37 points, while Neptunas only got 18 points from their second unit. Zalgiris also looked after the ball (6 turnovers) and made the most of the sloppy play from Neptunas (17 turnovers). Angus Brandt was one of many to have a quiet night for the visitors, scoring 3 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist in just 14 minutes, with the game all but over heading into the final quarter.
Game four was very different for the two Aussies as Motum had his best game of the championship series, while Brandt was buried in the rotation during the 50-74 loss. Motum made every chance count, scoring 12 points (6/8 FG) alongside 3 rebounds and 1 assist in 17 minutes. Brandt saw just 12 minutes, scoring 2 points with 3 rebounds as Neputunas' chances of a title slowly evaporated. Zalgiris outplayed Neptunas in every aspect of the game, dominating no area in particular. However, in the end it added up and Zalgiris ran away with the win easily, holding Neptunas to 4 points in the final quarter. Though the game was not without its momentum shifts, as Neptunas scored 25 of their 50 points in the second quarter, but were unable to translate that form to the rest of the game.
David Andersen responded well following a quiet semi-finals in the French Pro A with a scintillating display in game one of the championship series. Despite ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne falling 80-73 to Strasbourg, Andersen put up 19 points (5/11 FG), 5 rebounds and finished 7/8 at the line. For good measure, Andersen also made two three-pointers as ASVEL went just 9/28 from behind the arc.
Strasbourg strangled ASVEL in the opening quarter, opening up a 28-8 lead. A second quarter resurgence saw the margin cut to 11 points at half-time, but ASVEL struggled to create their own shot in this really hurt them as Strasbourg scored freely at times throughout the contest.
Game two was much the same, just with a different path. Strasbourg established a small lead early before a 47-27 run spanning the second and third quarters sealed the victory. ASVEL did their best to get back into the contest, recording a 7-20 final quarter and building momentum ahead of a crucial game three. Andersen was restricted to just 6 points (2/3 FG) and 4 rebounds in a much tougher outing for the Boomers veteran. Andersen play was solid, yet he just didn't have the desired impact as Strasbourg made 44% of their three's and ASVEL connected on just 4 of 16. On a positive note, ASVEL managed 29 free-throw attempts and converted 21. ASVEL have had flashes of solid play, but really look inferior to Strasbourg. That is not to say that ASVEL is without any hope, they have the pieces to do the job, just at the moment they are being outplayed.
Brad Newley's season is over after Euroleague Final Four participant Laboral Kutxa bundled Herbalife Gran Canaria out of the playoffs with a 78-71 win in game three. Newley was held to a single point (0/3 FG) as Laboral Kutxa ground out the hard-fought win in an entertaining second-half. Separated by just one point at half-time, Laboral Kutxa seized control with a 21-13 quarter and took the win from there. They grabbed 12 more rebounds (40-28), giving them extra scoring opportunities despite turning the ball over 20 times. Both sides shot a combined 14/58 from three-point range and really only made baskets at the rim. Gran Canaria failed to finish their chances shooting the ball which ultimately proved their downfall, as they played a solid game and can be proud of their effort throughout the game and the season.
Not long after their season came to an end, Newley's little-kept secret of moving back to Australia to play with the Sydney Kings was formally announced. The Kings signed the 31-year old to a 3-year deal which may well see the long-time Australian Boomer see out his playing career with the Kings.