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Wolves Twinsbet clinches semi-finals berth behind K. Žemaitis’ heroics

The drama continues in the Lithuanian Basketball League quarterfinals and the jockeying for position to secure a semi-finals berth has been resolved between Wolves Twinsbet and BC Neptūnas. The Lithuanian capital’s team eliminated the port city’s club 91:80 (26:16, 14:15, 24:26, 27:23) at home and clinched the series, 2:1.

Leading up to this exhilarating Game 3 match-up, both teams picked up one win at home – Wolves Twinsbet were victorious in Twinsbet Arena for Game 1 (91:84), and then BC Neptūnas won big in Švyturio Arena in Game 2 (95:76).

Both squads started the game by trading baskets, and BC Neptūnas was the first to cool down. After made three-pointers by Arturs Žagars and Rasheed Sulaimon, the home team built up a double-digit lead, prompting the visitors to call a ceasefire – 20:10. Ignas Sargiūnas paced the Klaipėda team’s offense for a while, but the hosts ended the first quarter ahead by ten –  26:16.

The second quarter was quite uneventful and midway through it, the Wolves extended their lead off a bucket by Kristupas Žemaitis – 33:20. Jeffery Taylor and Deividas Gailius then exchanged three-pointers to make it 40:29 and afterwards, I. Sargiūnas finished off the first half with a scoop shot to keep it close for Neptunas, 31:40.

After halftime, the BC Neptūnas managed to trim the lead and after free throws by D. Gailius, they got even closer – 47:52. The Wolves responded with their own scoring blast, regaining a double-digit lead – 58:47 – following a three-pointer by Eigirdas Žukauskas. I. Sargiūnas’ free throws brought the guests within striking distance – 57:64.

Ąžuolas Tubelis ignited his team’s offense and allowed BC Neptūnas to crawl back and down by just two points – 62:64. This set off another scoring run for Wolves Twinsbet, re-taking control with an 81-65 advantage after K. Žemaitis’ three-pointer. Having established a commanding lead, the Wolves of Vilnius were never threatened until the final buzzer.

K. Žemaitis shone brightest for the Wolves – in just 25 minutes of play he collected 26 points (4/6 2PT FGs, 6/6 3PT FGs), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 33 EFF.

Both teams saw significant losses from their roster – the injury sustained by Garrison Brooks in Game 1 proved to be season-ending, while the visitors were without Žygimantas Janavičius who injured his shoulder in Game 2.

Wolves Twinsbet barged into the semi-finals for the first time in just their sophomore season. Previously in their Betsafe-LKL debut and in the King’s Mindaugas Cup (Citadele KMT), they lost in the quarterfinals.

In their upcoming semi-final series, Wolves Twinsbet will be facing off against BC Rytas in a highly anticipated Vilnius derby.

Wolves Twinsbet: Kristupas Žemaitis 26 (6/6 3PT FGs, 6 rebounds), Regimantas Miniotas (11 rebounds) and Arturs Žagars 12 each, Rasheed Sulaimon (4 rebounds, 6 assists) and Tre’Shawn Thurman 11 each, Jeffery Taylor 8 (6 assists), Arnas Beručka 4, Eigirdas Žukauskas 3, Christian Mekowulu and Vaidas Kariniauskas 2 each. Vitalijus Kozys did not play.

BC Neptūnas: Ignas Sargiūnas 27, Ąžuolas Tubelis 13, Deividas Gailius and Mindaugas Girdžiūnas 12 each.

(Photo: Rokas Lukoševičius)