For 15 years in a row LKL finals featured Zalgiris and Lietuvos Rytas and everyone knew who would fight for LKL title at the end of the season. One of the two Lithuanian giants will have to settle with a lower place this year.
Having secured the 1st place in LKL regular season, Lietuvos Rytas visited Kaunas to clash with Zalgiris in game which had much more significance to the hosts. A win would have placed Zalgiris in either 2nd or 3rd place, while a loss would put leave them 4th, most likely facing Rytas in semi-finals.
The Greens started the game with more energy, leading in double digits a few times. Rytas refused to let the game slip away though and narrowed the gap to five points less than two minutes left to play.
Veteran Sarunas Jasikevicius was called a foul on Zabian Dowdell who scored two points and was given three free-throws following Saras’ was given a technical foul for arguing with the officials.
Dowdell completed 7-0 run to put Rytas ahead 83-81. Justin Dentmon tied the score at 84 but Antanas Kavaliauskas had the last say as he scored just before the buzzer to give Rytas its only lead as well as a victory.
The two teams will now most likely to meet again in semi-finals unless they are eliminated in quarter-finals.
This was the second season in which regular season standings were decided by percentage of games won. The format modified in order to give more time for LKL teams who play in European competitions.
Rytas, Zalgiris and Neptunas all played 20 regular season games instead of 34. While taking the load of games away from these teams, the new format also increased the significance of each game.
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