The fantastic performance by Evans led Žalgiris to a last-minute drama in Valencia

The fantastic performance by Evans led Žalgiris to a last-minute drama in Valencia

In a riveting showdown, Keenan Evans orchestrated a mesmerizing three-point showcase that propelled Kaunas’ Žalgiris to a thrilling victory over Valencia, culminating in a final score of 84-79.

Evans, undoubtedly the hero of the match, delivered a stellar performance in the crucial final quarter, amassing 11 pivotal points. His overall contribution stood at an impressive 24 points, marked by a remarkable 6 out of 9 successful three-pointers, and he also showcased his playmaking skills by distributing 5 assists.

Žalgiris set the tone with a formidable start, hitting all 7 field goals and converting all 10 free throws within the initial 9 minutes. Dovydas Giedraitis, making his first start under Coach Trinchieri, quickly made his presence felt, tallying 4 points and 6 efficiency points in under 4 minutes. The first quarter concluded with Žalgiris leading 27-21.

The momentum carried into the second quarter, with Ulanovas and Šmitas each contributing 10 points by halftime. The team strategically focused on two-pointers, making three times as many as three-pointers (12/18 two-pointers and 3/6 three-pointers). Despite Žalgiris committing 8 errors, leading to 13 points for the Spanish team, they maintained a 6-point lead at halftime with a score of 42-48.

After the break, Žalgiris faced challenges in scoring, allowing Valencia to embark on a 15-6 run, taking a 3-point lead halfway through the third quarter (57-54). Žalgiris, however, managed to halt the opponent’s momentum, and Edmondas Sumner closed the quarter with a three-pointer, leaving Valencia ahead by only 2 points (64-62).

The fourth quarter witnessed Žalgiris attempting 7 three-pointers and 6 two-pointers. Evans, with a three-pointer with 3 minutes left, once again surged Žalgiris into a 2-point lead (67-66). Brady Manek’s quick two-pointer extended the lead to 4 points (72-68). However, Semi Ojeleye responded for Valencia with a three-pointer, two successful free throws, and drawing an unsportsmanlike foul from Šmitas, putting Valencia back in the lead (74-72).

Evans then delivered a spectacular three-pointer, Ulanovas added 2 points, and Žalgiris regained the lead at 77-74. Brandon Davies narrowed the deficit with free throws, but Evans, in exceptional form, sank his sixth three-pointer, securing a 4-point lead for Žalgiris with 1.5 minutes remaining (80-76).

With the score at 80-78, referees penalized Evans with a technical foul for a foot obstruction. Valencia closed in on the minimal deficit, and with 20 seconds left, Žalgiris retained possession. Manek wasted no time, making a quick two-pointer and increasing the lead to 3 points with 15 seconds remaining. Ojeleye missed a three-pointer, Ulanovas capitalized on free throws, and Žalgiris sealed the dramatic victory at 84-79. Captain Ulanovas trailed Evans by just 1 efficiency point, registering 14 points (4/4 two-pointers, 6/6 free throws), 8 rebounds, and 22 efficiency points.

In the opposing team, the standout performer was Brandon Davies, the former Žalgiris player, who accumulated 18 points (5/10 two-pointers), grabbed 5 rebounds, and earned 24 efficiency points. Despite Pangos spending 16 minutes on the court and scoring 3 points, he also accrued 4 personal fouls and -2 efficiency points.

Team statistics mirrored each other closely – Žalgiris won the rebound battle 30-29, while the opponents held a slight edge with 3 more assists (15-12). Both teams committed 16 turnovers. The notable distinction came in three-point shooting, with the Spanish team hitting only 5 out of 17 attempts (29.4%), while Žalgiris demonstrated proficiency with 9 successful shots out of 23 attempts (39.1%).

Žalgiris’ starting lineup featured Evans with 24 points, Ulanovas with 14, Rolandas Šmitas with 12 (alongside 6 rebounds), Laurynas Birutis with 11 (5/7 two-pointers), Manek with 8 (including 1/3 three-pointers), Giedraitis with 6 (6/6 free throws), Sumneris with 5, and Lukas Lekavičius with 4 (2/6 two-pointers, 0/2 three-pointers).

Valencia’s lineup included Davies with 18 points, Chris Jones with 13 (4 assists, 4 steals), Ojeleye with 9 (0/3 two-pointers, 1/3 three-pointers), Damien Inglis with 8, Jared Harper with 7, and Stefan Jović with 7.

The Kaunas team will prolong its stay in Spain for another two weeks, with the upcoming match against Barcelona scheduled for Friday.