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Wolves Twinsbet steal road win in Klaipėda

Klaipėda’s BC Neptūnas (14-15) were already on the verge of winning, but in the end, they picked up their third straight loss in the Lithuanian Basketball League (Betsafe-LKL) after Rasheed Sulaimon’s buzzer-beating three-pointer shocked the home team 86:85 (15:15, 14:31, 24:21, 33:18) and stole the win for Wolves Twinsbet (21-8) of Vilnius.

In the remaining games of the regular season, BC Neptunas will be facing BC Šiauliai while Wolves Twinsbet will play BC Žalgiris of Kaunas in their Vilnius home court. The Vilnius-based club has already locked up the third seed, while Klaipėda is teetering between the 5th and 6th spots. 7bet-Lietkabelis of Panevėžys (14-13) is the next closest club in the tournament standings.

If BC Neptunas remains in sixth place, Wolves Twinsbet will be waiting for them in the quarter-finals.

Early in the game Vaidas Kariniauskas and Garrison Brooks led the offense for Wolves Twinsbet. Still, the Vilnius club was not able to keep the lead for long after Deividas Gailius equalised the score – 9:9. Back-and-forth the two teams went but at the end of the first quarter, the score was tied at 15 apiece.

With scoring coming from Martynas Pacevičius and Ignos Sargiūnas, the Klaipėda hosts slowly established their lead – 26:21. Josh Newkirk joined in the action, and after a layup from A. Tubelis, BC Neptunas opened up a double-digit gap – 31:21. The dry spell cost the Wolves dearly as only Artūrs Žagars’ free throw gave them a point on the board, and after a strong second quarter, BC Neptūnas led 46:29.

The BC Neptunas lead came close to being insurmountable (50:32), but with the combined efforts of Rasheed Sulaimon, Jeffery Taylor and Kristupas Žemaitis, the Wolves were able to keep within striking distance – 40:52. Klaipeda persevered to stay ahead 67:53 after three quarters.

Martynas Pacevičius sank his first three-pointer of the season and only the second trey of his career at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Sulaimon and Taylor tag-teamed in scoring for the Wolves who found themselves trailing only by six, 71:77 with half a quarter remaining. Ž. Janavičius and Regimantas Miniotas traded baskets (73:79), and Sulaimon nailed a clutch three-pointer (80:83) with 2 minutes left in the game. After a timeout, BC Neptūnas missed two shots, but Brooks was called for an offensive foul followed by Taylor being ejected after receiving two technicals for yelling at referees.

This chain of events increased the Klaipeda lead (85:80) with 70 seconds left to play. Sulaimon sank a deep three-pointer (83:85) and afterwards, BC Neptunas’ offense stalled. With 4 seconds remaining, R. Sulaimon hoisted his buzzer-beating three-pointer to snatch the victory for Wolves Twinsbet.

Wolves Twinsbet played without Vitalijus Kozys who was recovering from a minor injury.

Wolves Twinsbet: Rasheed Sulaimon 24 (4/7 3pt FG, 30 EFF), Jeffery Taylor 16 (5 rebounds), Vaidas Kariniauskas 12, Kristupas Žemaitis 7, Eigirdas Žukauskas 6, Garrison Brooks and Regimantas Miniotas 5 each, Arnas Beručka, Tre’Shawn Thurman and Artūras Žagar 3 each, Christian Mekowulu 2.

BC Neptunas: Martynas Pacevičius 16, Ąžuolas Tubelis 14, Žygimantas Janavičius (8 assists) and Thomas Rutherford – 10 each.

(Photas: Rokas Lukoševičius/LKL)