Zalgiris Kaunas continued the Lithuanian League (LKL) campaign after playing more international games recently. The club from Kaunas visited Sakalai in Vilnius and escaped with a very narrow victory at the end - 86:84.
Tadas Klimavicius led the visitors with 23 points and Martynas Pocius scored 20 in the return to his hometown. Mantas Kalnietis made only 1 of 10 two-pointers, but still ended up with 16, as Mario Delas collected 11.
"The game was awful. I'm not satisfied with how my team played today. Some of our key players didn't play, so our youth was given a chance to showcase their skills. However, Sakalai players were right up there with us and I can only commend our opponents, who played very well today," said coach Butautas.
The hosts managed to break away before halftime, using a 5:0 run at the end of the second quarter to build a 44:35 lead heading into the break.
Zalgiris bounced back from the unexpected start fairly quickly and took the lead at 47:46 behind Mario Delas' basket. Sakalai gave another blow to the team that finished third in the VTB United League's Final Four just before the weekend. The hosts relied on long-range shots to get the distance between the clubs to double-digits - 68:56.
The last quarter was a real battle, Zalgiris was in a hurry to close the deficit as soon as possible and finally managed to do so with about two minutes on the clock remaining. Martynas Pocius converted both foul shots to swing the lead back to Zalgiris (79:77) and then added another four successful shots from the line to pretty much decide the game.
"I want to make an apology to our fans for the tragic basketball. My players already got chided and there will be more to come," Zalgiris coach said after the game.