Siauliai inch closer towards Finals

SIAULIAI – The defending Triobet BBL champions Siauliai got one step closer to making another appearance in the Finals after coming away with a 77-67 victory against Lietkabelis in the first leg of the all-Lithuanian Semi-Final tie at home on Wednesday evening.

 

The return leg is schedule for Tuesday, March 22 and will be played in Panevezys, where Lietkabelis will try to eliminate a 10-point deficit using home court advantage.

The hosts caught Lietkabelis a little off-guard with a 15-6 start to the opening period, but a 10-0 run for the guests saw the game pendulum swing back into balance. Although Siauliai finished the period with a 20-18 advantage and were up 42-36 at the halftime break, it was very much an evenly-matched 20 minutes of basketball.

The hosts maintained a small edge in the third quarter as well before opening up a wider margin in the final frame. Although Lietkabelis were down only 60-58 with six minutes remaining, the home side went on a 9-2 run to increase the gap to nine points, with 2:54 left.

The final minutes of the game were also more favorable for Siauliai and a pair of Dave Dudzinski free-throws had extended the home side’s lead to a game-high 13 points, but Jermaine Love converted a last-second three-point play to cut the gap to 10.

Assem Marei was efficient in just over 20 foul-plagued minutes on the court, scoring 20 points and grabbing six rebounds for Siauliai. Cameron Ayres added 12 points and four boards, while Rokas Giedraitis also had 12.

For Lietkabelis, big man Mile Ilic was the top scorer with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along three blocked shots. Simas Buterlevicius collected 11 points and five boards, while Julius Kazakauskas chipped in nine points and nine rebounds.