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Lietuvos Rytas downs Donetsk 21 March 2012

Lietuvos Rytas started its quest for Eurocup gold, and a Euroleague ticket, with a win over Donetsk in Vilnius last night.

Rice Lietuvos Rytas

Playing in the best-of-two series in the Round of 16 of Eurocup, the home team earned themselves an 11 point advantage to defend in Donetsk next week.

In front of over 9000 fans at Siemens Arena, Rytas controlled the game for the first half staying an arm's length ahead of their opponents.

In the third quarter Steponas Babrauskas erupted with a trio of long shots and stretched the lead to 15 at one point.

Donetsk was always too good a team to get rolled, and the visitors fought back in the final quarter bringing the margin back to four before Rytas steadied both their scoring and the nerves of their fans to take the win.

Rytas controlled the first quarter and took an 18 - 9 lead to the first break. The only concern was two fouls to Valančiūnas, and he took a seat for the first half of the second quarter as Roberts took over the big-man duties.

This plan was shaken, literally, when Roberts took a fall later in the second quarter. While airborne for a rebound, it looked to the naked eye he was tunnelled by an opposition rebounder who took his legs from under him. He landed on his back from up high with a deafening thud to the parquetry.

The team doctors were waved away however and the tough big man continued, though slightly subdued for a minute or two. Nevertheless, Rytas added to their first quarter lead by a single digit with the halftime score showing 41 - 31.

It was an even team performance to that point with all players, or rather the rotation of seven, contributing. With Pedrag Samardžiski still sidelined, Dilys was only asked to play under a minute, but still managed to score a running bucket.

The third quarter however belonged to Stepas. It was three long shots later in the quarter that brought the crowd into the game and pushed the lead out to 15 at one stage. It would have been three three-pointers for the quarter except for a toe on the line, but even so the visitors recovered to reduce the deficit to 12 (61 - 49) at the final break.

Donetsk continued their rear-guard action in the final quarter and got to within four late in the period on the back of some fine shooting from Radenovic, but a couple of cool mid-range jumpers from Katelynas and Seibutis steadied the ship.

Rytas then kept their calm making a few more shots late in the game to pull out to a relatively comfortable 11 point win (76 - 65).

Stepas top scored with 15, Valančiūnas had 10 rebounds to go with his 14 poings, Jomantas with 13 was good at both ends, Roberts 10, Rice and Seibutis had 8, Katelynas 6 and Dilys 2.

After the game both coaches praised their charges for their efforts, and predictably enough, said that there was still plenty to play for next week on Donetsk home soil.

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