Lietuvos Rytas have punched their ticket into this season’s Euroleague following a 75-66 win over a gutsy BC Ostende side in Vilnius.
It mark a return to the Euroleague for the LKL runners-up, who booked the final spot on their home floor with a devastating third quarter display that left the fans inside the Siemens Arena smiling and Ostend reeling.
Martynas Gecevicius led the winners with 19 points with Renaldas Seibutis and Juan Palacios adding 11 in victory – the latter pulled down 13 rebounds – completing his double-double showing.
Antoine-Pierre Gillet led Ostende with 16 points as they will be forced to settle for Eurocup basketball this year. They certainly raised a few eyebrows in the Lithuanian capital over the last four days though.
Recovering from an early 7-0 deficit, the Belgian champions hit back with a 15-0 spell to take a comfortable 22-12 lead after the first quarter, thanks to great team defence, stalling Rytas’ scoring run for four minutes.
The hosts though shook off their drought and hit back in the second quarter to put themselves back into contention. Ostende held on though and led 43-41 at the break.
The third quarter proved to be a game-changer, in favour of Rytas. Gecevicius hit from deep to give his side the lead and Seibutis hit another three as part of an 8-1 run to give the home side the advantage. Ostende managed to keep the scoreline away from double-digit figures at the end of three, but trailed 65-56. A major turnaround, but one that the fans inside the Siemens Arena loved.
The fourth quarter was sluggish, but it was how Lietuvos Rytas wanted it. The fans celebrated a return to Europe’s premier club competition for another year.