The Turkish Airlines Euroleague qualifying rounds are underway. After day 1, two teams are ready to advance to the second round. QR1A: Germany’s EWE Baskets Oldenburg defeated Italian club Cimberio Varese, 79-74. Meanwhile in QR1B, Lithuanian powerhouse Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius downed Latvia’s VEF Riga, 80-71. Both victorious teams advance and will face each other next.
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius vs. VEF Riga, 80-71
The host team was powered through this game by the effort of Renaldas Seibutis (198 cm), who finished the game with 23 points and four assists. He led critical rallies during the game. One of which was a 13-2 run which allowed his team to get a double digit lead. One of his two triples for the game, put VEF Riga in deep hole, 33-48, during the second half.
VEF Riga tightened their defense in the dying minutes of the game and rode their own barrage of treys to come within four points of the leaders, 71-75. Their rally was dowsed by a triple nailed by Omar-Sharif Cook (188 cm, St. John’s’01) in the final minute of the game, sealing the victory for Lietuvos Rytas.
Aside from Seibutis, Colombian import Juan Palacios (204 cm) and local Martynas Gecevicius (193 cm) came through in double figures for the game, with 10 and 11 points respectively. Omar Cook finished with seven points and seven assists for the contest.
VEF Riga came with a balanced attack with all of its starters contributing 10 points or more in the losing effort. Arturs Berzins (204 cm), who traded early three-point shots with Seibutis, ended the game with 11 points and 4 rebounds. Lithuanian Tomas Delinnkaitis was the team’s top scorer, with 14 points but he missed all six of his attempts from downtown.
EWE Baskets Oldenburg vs. Cimberio Varese, 79-74
Oldenburg took control of the game early and capped off the first quarter with a 23-17 lead over Cimberio VA. Varese, however, came back stronger in the second quarter and got some easy baskets in transition and via lay-ups. Just like that, Oldenburg had only a slight four-point advantage heading into the halftime break, 35-31.
Both teams’ offenses were turned up a notch in the second half as each team traded leads within the third quarter, thanks to some excellent plays from both sides. The aggression carried into the fourth period with neither team willing to give any quarter, thus leaving the game tied at 70-70 with less than two minutes left in the game. Oldenburg clamped down and didn’t allow Varese to retake the lead from them after that point. Thanks to a late-game effort by American Chris Kramer (191 cm, Purdue’10) and Italian Andrea Crosariol (211 cm, Fair Dickinson’11), who played an excellent two-man game, Oldenburg went up. Three free-throw shots split between Paulding and Kramer locked down the victory.
Julius Jenkins (187 cm, Georgia South’03) was great for Oldenburg as he led the team in scoring with 18 points, off their bench. Chris Kramer and Rickey Paulding (196 cm, Missouri’04) added 15 points each of their own.
Varese was paced by local player, Achille Polonara (202 cm) who brought 18 points and four rebounds. Imports Kee-Kee Clark (180 cm, St. Peter’s’06) and Ebi Ere (195 cm, Oklahoma’03) chipped in 15 and 14 points, respectively.