Jonas Valanciunas ended up as a winner in a clash between the two biggest prospects in Lithuanian basketball.
Valanciunas, who was selected fifth by Toronto Raptors in the 2011 NBA Draft, had 13 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks in a low scoring game, in which Lietuvos Rytas beat Asseco Prokom 59-54 in the VTB United League.
Donatas Motiejunas, selected with the 20th pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves and immediately traded to the Houston Rockets in the same year’s draft, finished the game with 10 points and 9 rebounds for Asseco Prokom but was only 2 of 9 from the field.
Valanciunas, 19, was shining brighter than his two years older rival in the whole game as he was more aggressive and precise. Moreover, he grabbed a big offensive rebound in the last minute of the game, following it with a free-throw to give Lietuvos Rytas a 57-52 lead.
Tyrese Rice made another free-throw with 16 seconds left to make it 58-54 and after Jerel Blassingame missed a two-pointer for the visitors, the game was over.
Valanciunas produced big numbers despite the fact that Lietuvos Rytas scored less than 60 points for the first time in 38 games this season.
His 14 rebounds, including 6 on offense, were season-highs in the whole tournaments while his 4 blocks was season-high in VTB United League. Valanciunas was 4 of 10 from the floor and 5 of 8 from free-throw line.
Valanciunas led his team to the first win against Euroleague team this season. Lietuvos Rytas lost its previous four games to the teams from the top European competition. One of the defeats came against Asseco Prokom in December when Motiejunas hit game-winning lay-up and finished the game with 16 points.
However, his performance in Vilnius was below average. He missed all of his 7 two-pointers and both of his three-pointers came in the last quarter. Motiejunas was 4 of 4 from the line.
Steponas Babrauskas and Lawrence Roberts had 10 points each for the winners. Blassingame led the visitors with 19 points.
Both teams produced poor performance in the offense with the hosts making only 18 of 57 field goals and 20 of 34 shots from the line. Asseco Prokom shot 19 of 63 from the floor and 11 of 17 from the line.
Lietuvos Rytas secured the third place in Group B with 7 wins in 12 games. Asseco Prokom stands seventh in the nine-team group with a 5-8 record. The four best teams in each of two groups will produce to the Round of 16.
Highlights of the game: