Zalgiris began their Betsafe LKL title defense on a positive note, defeating the visiting Lietuvos Rytas 96-83 in Game 1 of the Finals at the Zalgirio Arena on Saturday.

The 19-time Lithuanian champions landed the first blow in the best-of-seven series after a strong second-half performance, paced by the long-range shooting of Arturas Milaknis.

Lietuvos Rytas jumped out to a 40-34 lead in the second period, but Zalgiris did not take long to find a response and entered the intermission with a 50-45 edge, which grew to double figures after the break.

Milaknis knocked down 6-of-7 of his three-point attempts and collected a game-high 24 points, Brandon Davies netted 21 points and grabbed 7 boards, while Edgaras Ulanovas added 12 points and 5 assists.

For Lietuvos Rytas, Rokas Giedraitis had 17 points, Mindaugas Girdziunas scored 13, while Loukas Mavrokefalidis and Travis Peterson scored 11 points apiece.

The second game of the series will be played in Vilnius on Monday.