By Stefan Djordjevic / firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarunas Jasikevicius coached his first game in Kaunas since leaving Zalgiris last summer and Barcelona came out on top against his former team in EuroLeague Round 12 with 73-62 on the scoreboard.
An emotional moment for Sarunas Jasikevicius as he watches the tribute from his old team pic.twitter.com/pBJGDmmgN5
— Turkish Airlines EuroLeague (@EuroLeague) December 4, 2020
Brandon Davies scored 16 points for the winning side while Kyle Kuric banked in 15. Nick Calathes scored six but also added ten assists, five boards and three steals.
For Zalgiris, the 20-year-old Rokas Jokubaitis scored 15 in addition to Nigel Hayes and Joffrey Lauvergne’s ten points each.
It wasn’t a particularly beautiful game with both teams playing tough defense which forced a lot of turnovers on both sides (18 and 21 respectively). However, Barcelona had the size advantage which gave them an upper hand throughout the game (46-33 early in the third quarter) and created open looks as Zalgiris was forced to help off the ball.
“The defense was good. We made mistakes on defense but there are always going to be some mistakes. Offensively, I thought we were absolutely awful. In the second half, I think we were able to control the rhythm of the game a little bit. We hit some shots. But to play this basketball, with more than 20 turnovers, it’s not our level. We need to get back to it. But it was also very important to win after the two losses in a row. So, we’ll take that and try to go and improve. Obviously, Marius [ Grigonis] is a focal point for Zalgiris and we had to stop him, and I think Adam [Hanga] and Alex [Abrines] really did a great job on him,” coach Jasikevicius said.
Add to it Zalgiris’ struggles from the three-point territory as they hit their first shot from deep as late as in the fourth quarter after going 0-10. Hayes stopped the missing streak and Thomas Walkup followed up with another one to spark a comeback (57-54).
It could’ve been much more dangerous for Barca had Jokubaitis not missed an open dunk in transition to cut the gap to just one point. On the contrary, as it usually happens, Kyle Kuric punished the miss with a triple for Barca which sparked a 13-2 run (70-56) that decided the outcome.
Barcelona improved to 9-2 and holds the top of the standings together with CSKA Moscow (9-3) while Zalgiris now has a 5-7 record.