BK Ventspils finished second in Group B by thrashing FMP 77-64 in Latvia on Tuesday. Ventspils was second in Group B with a 6-4 record and will be a 2 Seed in the ULEB Cup draw next Monday due to its tie-break advantage against the Koln 99ers, enough to have the home court advantage in the Last 32 round. Meanwhile, FMP was fifth at 3-7 and out of the elimination rounds. Kimmy Baxter paced the winners with 26 points on 4-for-5 three-pointers while Akin Akingbala added 23 points on 11-for-16 two-pointers, 13 rebounds and 7 blocks for Ventspils. Mladen Jeremic had 20 points for FMP but nobody else scored in double digits for the guests. A red hot Baxter allowed Ventspils to get a 17-7 lead early in the game. Nemanja Protic and Jeremic helped FMP to get back in the game, 23-20, but Baxter got some help from Akingbala to boost the hosts' lead to 38-25 at halftime. Once again Baxter and Akingbala fueled a 7-0 run that made it a 20-point gane, 45-25. FMP did not recover, as Ventspils cruised to a well-deserved win than opened the door to the second place in this group.
Aigars Vitols got Ventspils going with an early basket, igniting an 11-3 opening run in which Baxter had 6 points and that Helmanis capped with a triple. Jeremic answered from downtown but FMP kept struggling to score. Meanwhile, Baxter and a dominant Akingbala allowed Ventspils to boost its margin to double digits, 17-7. Protic and Dragan Labovic combined for all points in a 0-6 FMP run while a put-back basket by Ivan Zigeranovic got the guests within 19-15 after 10 minutes. Vitols followed free throws with a layup early in the second quarter but Jeremic got FMP within 23-20. Ventspils tried to get its big men Akingbala and Martin Skirmants involved. Meanwhile, a three-pointer by Baxter gave the hosts a 29-21 edge. Akingbala scored again while a red hot Baxter stroke twice from downtown for a 13-point Ventspils lead, 38-25, at halftime. Another close basket by Akingbala ignited a 7-0 run that Baxter capped with a triple to break the game open, 45-25, right after the break. Ventspils kept running its offense through Akingbala, who delivered with consecutive layups. Vitols fired in one from downtown to make it a 23-point game, 53-29. Jeremic and Protic fueled a 0-8 run that gave FMP some hope at 54-39 but Vairogs and Akingbala allowed Ventspils to make it a 20-point game, 61-41, after 30 minutes. Miroslav Raduljica had 6 points in a 0-8 run that brought FMP within 61-49. Akingbala stepped up again for the hosts while Baxter sealed the outcome, 69-49, midway through the fourth quarter. FMP did not give up but Ventspils held off a wild rally to cruised to a well-deserved win.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008