The 2013-14 Lietkabelis season officially came to a close Saturday afternoon. Needing a victory in their final regular season game to clinch a playoff berth, Lietkabelis was forced to play the waiting game after coming up short April 23rd. Sitting at #9, with the top eight clubs advancing to the playoffs, Lietkabelis needed #8 Nevezis to lose two in a row to squeak into the postseason. Although the two clubs shared identical records, Nevezis won the tie breaker by just a two point differential. To make matters worse, Lietkabelis missed a three at the buzzer in the final meeting between the two. A thirty-one game season, spanning seven months, came down to two points and one missed shot.
Lietkabelis almost got their wish as #2 Neptunas defeated Nevesis Wednesday on a last second buzzer beater (top play). Unfortunately, Nevezis final regular season game came against #5 Zvaigzdes, a club whose playoff fortunes were already sealed. As a result, Zvaigzdes rested many of their starters and Nevezis capitalized with an 80-66 victory, claiming the eighth and final playoff spot. Lietkabelis finished the LKL season at a 12-22 mark, an improvement from last year where they finished #11.
The team was led by American center Ryan Olander, who finished the season with averages of 11 ppg and 6 rpg. His complete stat line can be found below:
It is also worth mentioning that Olander was the lone representative for Lietkabelis at the 2014 LKL All Star Game played on March 3rd in Klaipeda. Olander suited up for Rytai (Eastern Division) with the likes of former Dallas Mavericks draft pick Reynaldos Seibutis and Louisville Cardinal Juan Palacios. The West squad featured former Georgia high flyer Travis Leslie, Duke Blue Devil Martynas Pocius and Dallas Maverick Justin Dentmon. Olander finished with 6 points and 2 rebounds in 11 minutes in his All Star debut as the East lost to the West 113-108. Below is Olander’s All Star jersey:
East All Star Jersey
With the LKL playoffs looming in the near future, rounds 21-23 were pivotal for Lietkabelis as they battled the top three clubs in the LKL. Lietkabelis came out of the rough stretch a very respectable 1-2 considering they had not beaten any of the top three previously this season.
Round 21 saw #10 Lietkabelis 3 game win streak come to an end at the hands of #1 Tonybet, 83-73. Down 56-35 at half, Lietkabelis rallied in the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to 8. Tonybet took advantage of 26 personal fouls shooting 82% (23-28) to close out the game. American Darrick Leonard led the way with 14 points and Ryan Olander added 8 points/2 rebounds in the losing effort.
Watch here: http://lkl.lt/lt/top/rungtynes/?game_id=2788013&season_id=87901
The biggest win of the season for #10 Lietkabelis came in Round 22 as they defeated #2 Zvaigzdes, 75-73. Croatian guard Goran Vrbanc paced Lietkabelis with 25 points in a game that featured 9 lead changes and saw neither team gain more than an 11 point advantage. Tied after 3 quarters, Lietkabelis shot 85% (11-13) from the foul line to seal the deal. Ryan Olander provided 4 points/6 rebounds in 20 minutes of action for Lietkabelis.
Watch here: http://lkl.lt/lt/top/rungtynes/?game_id=2788019&season_id=87901#stf
Lietkabelis traveled to the capital city for a Round 23 bout with #3 Lietuvos Rytas in Vilnius. Unfortunately they could not build on the momentum from the Zvaigzdes win, falling 85-74. Colombian Juan Palacios (Louisville) led L-R with 20 points/8 rebounds while American Omar Cook (St. John’s) chipped in 6 points/4 assists off the bench. Lietkabelis did manage to control the boards- even with former NBA forward Darius Songaila lurking in the paint- however their inability to shoot the ball (28% from 2) led to the undesirable outcome. American Ryan Olander put up 6 points in the losing effort. Lietkabelis hosts #4 Siauliai tomorrow starting another huge stretch for the club’s playoff push. With just 9 games remaining Lietkabelis remains at #10 with games against #9 Nevezis and #7 Juventus following tomorrow’s match.
Remember: only the top 8 teams advance.
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Update from the last 3 weeks in LKL play:
On December 18th, 2013 8th ranked Dzukia defeated 10th ranked Lietkabelis in Panevezys by a 74-64 margin. Lietkabelis entered the 4th up 2 before a foul-plagued final quarter allowed for a 27-15 run by the visitor. Nigerian Chukwudinma Odiakosa (Illinois State) led Lietkabelis with 20 points and 7 rebounds while Ryan Olander added 9 points and 6 rebounds in a losing effort.
On December 21st, 2013 3rd ranked Zvaigzdes defeated 10th ranked Lietkabelis 86-50 at home. Lietkabelis was held to just 5 points in the first quarter and never recovered from the early deficit. Zvaigzdes shot 43% (9-21) from deep including a 3-3 effort off the bench from Latvian swingman Ingus Bankevics. American Parrish Brown (Maryland) paced Lietkabelis with 14 off the bench and Ryan Olander contributed 8 points and 2 rebounds.
Top-ranked Lietuvos-Rytas moved to 8-0 with a 98-68 victory over #11 Lietkabelis December 27th in Panevezys. Colombian Juan Palacios (Louisville) led Lietuvos with 16 points and 7 rebounds while American Zabian Dowdell (Virginia Tech/Phoenix Suns) collected 7 points and 8 assists. Dowdell finished his college career as the seventh leading scorer in Virginia Tech history (1,785) and top five in assists (380), however shockingly went undrafted in the 2007 NBA Draft. In 2011 he was the subject of a Sports Illustrated article giving a behind the scenes look at 10-day contracts in the NBA (link found below). UCONN fans remember Palacios as a key contributor for Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals from 2004-2008. Lietuvos also features former St. John’s point guard Omar Cook who was not featured in Friday’s action. Ryan Olander scored 11 first half points -including two pick and roll dunks- battling Palacios in the post. Parrish Brown (Maryland) chipped in 8 points and 8 rebounds for Lietkabelis who fell into last place with their third consecutive loss.