The 2008-09 Eurocup regular season tipped off Monday night and Lietuvos Rytas showed why they are one of the top contenders for the title. The rest of the first game day takes place on Tuesday.

Mindaugas Lukauskis scored 23 points including four of Rytas’s 10 three-pointers and point forward Chuck Eidson had 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists as Lietuvos cruised past French side Asvel 95-74 at home in the Eurocup opener.

Six players scored at least 9 points for Rytas, who shot 52% from the floor. The Lithuanian powers, coached by former Lithuanian national team coach Antanas Sireika. And Rytas seems a legitmate candidate to grab their second ULEB Cup after the 2005 crown.

It will be clearer on Tuesday which other teams are for real – with the other 15 games being played.

One of the most interesting games will be an all-Greek battle between Panellinios and Aris in Group D. Russian powers Unics Kazan open in Group B at Lukoil while Khimki host Le Havre in Group C. A fun contest should be Azovmash at home against surprise Spanish ASB side Gran Canaria. And an intriguing showdown promises to be Czech side CEZ Nymburk at home against KK Buducnost of Montenegro.

Shifting focus to the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs got a big boost in Monday night’s win overĀ  the Memphis Grizzlies with Manu Ginobili returning to action for the first time this season and scoring 12 points in 11 minutes after recoving from left ankle surgery.

After the game, the Argentinian star said: “I felt pretty good about it. I didn’t rush it a lot. I took my time, found the open seam, made a couple of shots. I wasn’t thinking about a great game on my first one, so I’m happy with what I did.”

It remains to be seen how long before Ginobili can get back into the Spurs starting lineup – which would move either Roger Mason or Michael Finley back to the bench. But the Spurs have won five of their last six to move over .500 for the first time this season.

It looks like reality TV in India can pay off as the Pittsburg Pirates signed two participants in India’s Million Dollar Arm challenge, which began last December. The 20-year-old right-hander Dinesh Patel and 19-year-old southpaw Rinku Singh were javelin throwers in high school. The Pirates earlier this fall went to South Africa to ink 18-year-old switch-hitting shortstop prospect Mpho Ngoepe.

And speaking of baseball around the world, to finish off, here is a good look at the current crop of Japanese players likely to enter the Major League for next season.



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