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Wolves Twinsbet off to a winning start in the semi-finals, beats BC Rytas in Game 1

The Vilnius derby in the semi-finals series of the Lithuanian basketball league (Betsafe-LKL) was off to a sizzling start as Wolves Twinsbet took Game 1 after routing BC Rytas 96:85 (28:17, 18:24, 26:17, 24:27).

Game 2 of the best-of-five series (race to three wins) will be on Friday, May 24, at the Twinsbet Arena.

Wolves Twinsbet’s Eigirdas Žukauskas scored the first four points for his team, with Marcus Foster providing offense for BC Rytas to start the game 3:4. Soon after, M. Foster picked up a technical foul, his third personal in the match, and soon left the playing field. Wolves Twinsbet cranked up their offensive push and began building a nine-point lead (19:10), with Rasheed Sulaimon and Regimantas Miniotas contributing to further extend the gap – 24:11. Martynas Echodas and Gytis Masiulis responded for Rytas, but the troops of Nedas Pacevičius led 28:17 by the end of the first quarter.

Rytas played with more conviction in the second quarter, trimming the deficit to only five points after Gytis Radzevičius sank a three-pointer. A scorching 11-0 run allowed Rytas to tie the score at 28-all, but Regimantas Miniotas and Kristupas Žemaitis ended the Wolves’ drought to regain control of the lead at 46:41 after two quarters of play.

After halftime, the gap between both teams slowly increased again (49:41). J. Taylor made it a double-digit lead with his three-pointer (57:46) and R. Sulaimon buried back-to-back treys to make it 67:52. Wolves Twinsbet kept things under control in the third quarter, leading 72-58 before entering the final canto.

BC Rytas fought back to reduce the lead to eight points (69:77) in the fourth quarter behind the efforts of M. Foster and J. DeLaurier. The latter added another bucket to keep within striking distance – 71:77 but Wolves Twinsbet’s star guard R. Sulaimon silenced the crowd with an acrobatic lay-up plus the foul, 80:71.

Rytas continued its climb via free throws 77:84 and M. Echodas scored another basket to help his team claw right back into the game 79:84. R. Sulaimon scored from the charity stripe to give his team more cushion – 88:81, and Tre’Shawn Thurman added two of his free throws to pull away, 90:81. K. Žemaitis also went 2/2 with his free throws and in the end, J. Gorham’s basket did little to alter the story’s ending – 85:96.

Wolves Twinsbet: Rasheed Sulaimon 18, Regimantas Miniotas (5 rebounds) and Kristupas Žemaitis (7 rebounds) 13 each, Christian Mekowulu and Jeffery Taylor 11 each, Tre’Shawn Thurman 9, Eigirdas Žukauskas 8, Arnas Beručka 7, Artūrs Žagars 6. Vaidas Kariniauskas and Vitalijus Kozys both played but went scoreless.

BC Rytas: Gytis Radzevičius 16 (7 rebounds), Justin Gorham 15, Martynas Echodas 14.

(Photo: Saulius Čirba)