It was back in 2010 when Lietuvos Rytas won its last trophy when the team coached by Rimas Kurtinaitis beat Zalgiris in LKL finals. Since then the team had five seasons that they’d glad to forget. And the urge for victories grew stronger each year.
The thrashing of Neptunas in semi-finals was indeed a statement ahead of King Mindaugas Cup final against Zalgiris. Rytas players were very motivated and eager to finally win a title for themselves.
In a game dominated by defense Rytas earned a deserved victory by downing Zalgiris 67-57. It was tight affair throughout but the home side remained in control for the most part. Despite efforts of Zalgiris players to narrow the gap, Rytas kept on slowly pulling away.
Rytas made 18 turnovers opposed to just 5 from Zalgiris but the dominance under the basket (47 rebounds against 22) gave Rytas many second chance opportunities to score at the same time limiting those of Zalgiris.
The gap grew to 17 points midway through the fourth quarter and the winner was obvious before the final whistle.
Antanas Kavaliauskas, Rytas captain, who had 20 points and was named the MVP could hardly find words to describe the way he felt after the game. He was ecstatic. So were his teammates.
Martynas Pocius led the scorers for Zalgiris with 13 points followed by Paulius Jankunas who had 12 on the night.
The season is still far from over but Rytas made a clear statement that this year’s LKL finals are going to be much more interesting to watch than the last six years.
The game also involved an awkward moment as Rytas President Gevydas Vainauskas rushed to the court to hug coach Tomas Pacesas before the game was over. Arena security personnel reacted quickly and pulled Vainauskas away from the court despite his and Pacesas shouts.