BAXI Manresa clinch last Quarter-Finals spot as Rytas Vilnius comeback win falls short
VILNIUS (Lithuania) - BAXI Manresa suffered a rare sweet defeat on Wednesday and picked up the last ticket to the BCL Quarter-Finals that was still on offer on the final day of Round of 16 action as Rytas Vilnius prevailed 96-95 over the Spanish side, a margin 12 points shy of the 13-point differential that would have sent the Lithuanian club to the last eight.
Last year's BCL finalists were in complete control in the first half, leading by as many as 10 points, but Rytas stormed back after the interval and appeared to be grabbing the coveted ticket in the fourth frame, before the momentum shifted once and for all in the dying minutes.
Manresa finish in second place in Group J at 3-3 and will be unseeded at Friday's draw but that matters little to them when they know they have secured a second consecutive trip to the Quarter-Finals of the BCL.
Turning point: Rytas were holding the magical 13-point cushion, 91-78 with 3:23 left to play, when Dani Perez intercepted a Marcus Foster pass to Gytis Masiulis and the latter committed an unsportsmanlike foul on the Manresa point guard. The visitors went on a 9-0 run as the hosts lost their composure and never managed to start chasing the point differential again.
Game heroes: Jerrick Harding scored 12 points in less than 10 minutes in the first half, en route to his team-high 23 points, but Devin Robinson, full of swagger in important moments of the second half, scored crucial buckets and finished with 22 points, 8 rebounds and an efficiency rating of 23. Marcus Foster, who came up with big plays during the Rytas comeback effort and collected a game-high 27 points would have been a Rytas hero had the home team made it to the Quarter-Finals.
😳 That's how you protect that tiebreaker advantage ❌#BasketballCL | @BasquetManresa @Toonday_07 pic.twitter.com/EspWateciV— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) March 22, 2023
Stats don't lie: Manresa's 16 offensive rebounds might not seem like a lot when you consider that the Spanish team scored 15 second-chance points off them, but they had the permanent effect of breaking up Rytas' concertation and preventing them again and again from getting more than a few stops in a row.
Bottom line: Manresa take second place in the group behind Telekom Baskets Bonn who cruised to their sixth win in as many games in the Round of 16 on Wednesday, 87-76 at Bahcesehir College, behind 18 points and 6 rebounds from Finn Delany and a double-double of 13 points and 10 assists by TJ Shorts. Rytas take third place in the group while the Turkish side finish bottom without a win to their name.