By Vytautas Kaminskas
First, Neptunas hosted Panevezys to play their first game of the season. Earlier on the day, two second-ranked Vilnius and Kaunas teams, Sakalai and Hidruva-Atletas met in Vilnius to fight for another league point.
Sakalai - Hidruva-Atletas 96-72 (20-18, 26-16, 24-22, 26-16)
Sakalai look to be improving with every match they play. Although, you can't deny the contribution of their homecrowd as the Vilnius team crushed Hidruva-Atletas from Kaunas by 24 points.
The visitors were able to play an even game only in first minutes. The control of all the other play-time completely belonged to Sakalai, which won the match with a solid margin and are climbing up to the top of the league table after they lost their first season match. This was the first defeat for Atletas. The Kaunas team looked much worse than in their first won match at home against Panevezys.
Sakalai had a great performance from their veteran Erikas Kuciauskas, who scored 26 points and added 5 rebounds. Friday's hero Eligijus Redeckas extended his 3-point show. This time he hit 4/5, and has an overall 9/12 during the last 2 matches. Hidruva-Atletas, meanwhile, wasn't able to find a real team leader, that could be called a serious reason for a big loss too.
Sakalai: Erikas Kuciausias 26 (5 rebs), Renaldas Seibutis 19, Eligijus Redeckas 14 (4/5 3pt), Roladas Skaisgirys 13 (9 ass), Rolandas Matulis 9 (8 rebs), Mykolas Jasaitis 7, Rolandas Vaicius 6 (6 rebs), Justas Sinica 2 (Martynas Gecevicius).
Hidruva-Atletas: Dainius Loda 16, Arturas Darasas 14, Tomas Pusinaitis 11, Laurynas Peciukaitis 8, Tauras Stumbrys 7, Marius Vansavicius 6, Martynas Dipartas 4 (7 rebs), Mantas Masilionis, Mindaugas Kalvelis (5 rebs) and Dalius Lubys 2 each (Mantas Bernatavicius).
Neptunas - Panevezys 84-90 (19-28, 30-13, 21-23, 14-26)
Hopeful as always Neptunas wasn't able to gladden their crowd in the season-opening match in Klaipeda, losing to Panevezys. After two very close losses, the Panevezys team finally won their first league point this year.
The match saw ups and downs fro both teams. Panevezys started the match better, and had a solid 9-point lead after the 1st quarter. Then, the hosts made a run during the 2nd quarter and had 8-point lead before the halftime 49-41.
The 3rd quarter didn't change the situation much. Panevezys reduced the score by 2 points only, leaving everything for the last 10 minutes. Neptunas couldn't hold their lead in the last few minutes, and Panevezys was finally able to enjoy their first victory after another close game ending.
Panevezys had another good game from their undisputed new leader Tomas Gaidamavicius, who scored 18 points and added 5 rebounds. Anyway, this time the best performance in Panevezys was demonstarted by Nerijus Strazdauskas, who had 23 points, 8 rebs, and a 10/14 2-point shooting. Neptunas, as ussual, mostly relied on their long-range shooting. This time, it wasn't very effective, as they hit only 9 from 26 3-pointers.
Neptunas: Mantas Ruikis 19, Petras Salvis 18, Sheiku Kabba 14 (6 rebs), Zydrunas Stankus 12, Matas Niparavicius 10 (6 rebs), Arturas Kaubrys 7, Alexander Savenkov and Vaidotas Pridotkas 2 each.
Panevezys: Nerijus Strazdauskas 23 (8 rebs), Tomas Gaidamavicius 18 (5 rebs), Giedrius Jankauskas 16 (7 rebs), Rytis Streikus 12, Tomas Taucius 7, Aurimas Papucka 4, Audrius Stasaitis and Zydrunas Valuckis 3 each, Valentinas Jurksaitis and Ernestas Ezerskis 2 each (Paulius Vaitiekunas, Mantas Cepaitis).
Next weekend, the LKL league will finally be joined by the two Lith club basketball giants - Zalgiris Kaunas and Lietuvos Rytas. On friday, the current champion Zalgiris will host Alita, while Rytas is going to welcome Alita. Another match will be played in Siauliai, where the hotsts Siauliai team will meet Hidruva-Atletas.