The fans at Siemens Arena in Vilnius tomorrow will witness the clash of fierce rivals Zalgiris and Lietuvos Rytas in King Mindaugas Cup (formerly LKF Cup) final after both clubs took care of their semi-final games.
After having a rather difficult quart-final game against Nevezis, the Greens were expected to face an even tougher challenge in Vytautas who wasted a 24-point lead against Juventus yet managed to secure an 88-86 win in the other quarter-final. But the game was over before the final as whistle.
The side from a small town of Prienai was able to compete with Zalgiris for two quarters. Vytautas was ahead 40-39 at halftime as Zalgiris struggled to stop their shooters.
In the end, it was too big of a task for Vytautas to remain competitive with just 8 players registered for the game and two of them playing 35+ minutes. Eventually they ran out of gas. Meanwhile Zalgiris took advantage of a deeper bench and kept on pushing their opponents.
Zalgiris led by 9 points before the final period and it seemed like the game is still wide open. However it was anything but a close game in the fourth quarter as current cup holders quickly built a 20-point lead. There was no tension in the end as Zalgiris won comfortably 90-67.
Martynas Pocius led the winners with 17 points supported by four of his teammates who finished the game in double digits. Laimonas Kisielius was unstoppable on the other end with 26 points.
The second semi-final between tournament hosts Rytas and Neptunas was expected to be a tight clash right to the final whistle. However, Neptunas were stunned by their opponents already in the first quarter.
Neptunas made a statement by entered semi-final by thrashing Siauliai 96-58. While Rytas were made to work to record a 88-82 win against Lietkabelis.
Rytas began the semi-final encounter strong and was tearing apart Neptunas’s defense right the start. Vilnius side poured 38 points against 21 of Neptunas in the first quarter putting themselves in a comfortable position.
The second quarter was much closer yet it was still Rytas who added two more points to their advantage. With a 19-point at the beginning of the third quarter Neptunas had to put their best effort in order to have any chance in the game.
They managed to narrow the gap to 12 points. Rytas head coach Tomas Pacesas was furious as his players couldn’t bring the ball to Neptunas halfcourt but his team quickly got back on track. The lead was quickly back to 18 points and Rytas never looked back eventually winning 97-79.
Six players finished the game in double digits for Rytas with Marius Runkauskas being the top scorer with 15 points. Travis Bader led the scorers for Neptunas with 17 points but it was Daniel Ewing who was the true leader of the team for the most part of the game.