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Another defensive gem, sustained by hot shooting, Punter had 26, and Olimpia won 88-70 in Kaunas

13/09/2020
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Olimpia took the first-place trophy in Kaunas, taking down Zalgiris 88-70. Olimpia built the win in an amazing first half, a defensive gem, leading by 23, 46-23. Zalgiris was forced to make turnovers and went 2-for-11 for three-point range. It was a defensive effort very similar to the one that gave Olimpia the win in the semifinal over Alba Berlin. But this time the shooters did a great job too. Kevin Punter scored 10 points in the first period, at one point making four jumpers in a row, and he finished with 26. When Zalgiris attempted a comeback late in the third and early in the fourth shrinking the margin to 10 with two consecutive threes by Walkup and Lekavicius, Punter responded with two clutch threes himself and then made a third.

His impressive shooting performance was sustained in the second quarter by Malcolm Delaney, who made four straight threes and by Sergio Rodriguez in the third. When Delaney was sanctioned with his third foul one minute into the second half, Rodriguez made three threes plus an assist for a thunderous Zach LeDay’s dunk.

“It’s been a good tournament – Coach Ettore Messina said – like I said we had the right attitude since day one, however there’s still a lot of work to be done. Today, the third quarter defense was not comparable to the first half or even the fourth quarter defense. We need to stay consistent, no matter the rotations, we cannot relax, the game are 40-minute long. But I feel like we have the tools and the good people in our team to do good things. Defensively, it’s a matter of effort, we have the quickness, the desire and players who understand that we need to play good defense. Offensively, the key is the quality of the passing, it’s the only way to keep the advantage that you build early in the possession.” Olimpia played without Kaleb Tarczewski, who suffered a sprained ankle and was rested.

The team combined to make 16 threes for the night, including one by Davide Moretti. Kyle Hines had seven rebounds and four assists. “It was a convincing win – Kevin Punter said at the end – but there’s still work to do. We are trying to build a culture, where we improve each and every day, each and every possession. I scored a lot, because they hit me in the right positions.”

MALCOLM DELANEY
VLADO MICOV
SHAVON SHIELDS