| With its possible elimination at stake, two-time Eurocup champion Valencia Basket rallied from a 22-point deficit to grab a life-saving 96-103 overtime win over VEF Riga in the Latvian capital on Tuesday. With this victory, Valencia gained control of its own fate in Group J. Both teams now hold 3-2 records, but Valencia holds a tiebreaker with two wins over Riga. The hosts, who would have secured the club’s first Eurocup quarterfinal berth with a victory, seemed in control after building 37-15 lead in the second quarter. But, Valencia cut it to 11 points before halftime, and with 13 third-quarter points from Justin Doellman, came back to tie the game at 70-70. With leads changing hands in the fourth quarter, Pau Ribas forced overtime with a reverse layup that made it 90-90 with 6 seconds left. Riga missed its last shot and never led again. Stefan Markovic made a key driving layup in the extra session, and Bojan Dubljevic sunk 7 of 10 free throws for Valencia’s victory. Doellman finished with 23 points plus 8 rebounds and Dubljevic had 18 points plus 10 rebounds for the winners. Ribas also scored 18, while Rodrigo San Miguel contributed 12 points. For the hosts, Earl Rowland netted a game-high 29 points but missed a potential game-winning triple at the end of regulation. Kristaps Janicenoks scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half, Kaspars Berzins collected 12 points plus 8 rebounds, while Dairis Bertans and Donatas Zavackas scored 11 apiece.
Riga stormed out of the gate to open up an early double-digit lead. Antanas Kavaliauskas scored a layup and a dunk on first couple of possessions, and after Serhiy Lishchuk made basket-plus-free throw to open Valencia's account, assisted Zavackas on back-to-back triples at 10-3. After Rowland added a layup, Janicenoks did the same off a steal then sunk a triple to make it 21-7. Valencia struggled with 5 turnovers before back-to-back threes from Markovic and Ribas got the visitors going. However, Janicenoks hit another triple and followed it up with another fastbreak layup, for a 30-13 scoreboard after one quarter. Riga continued firing on all cylinders, extending the margin to 37-15 with a fastbreak dunk from Berzins and a triple from Gatis Jahovics. Valencia disrupted Riga’s rhythm with a zone defense, while showing some life on their own offense as Doellman made a basket-plus-foul and San Miguel scored from downtown. Valencia cut the deficit to 39-25 before Rowland snapped a 2-10 run with a deep three. But Dubljevic and Doellman answered from downtown on back-to-back possessions helping bring Valencia within 44-34. Bertans nailed a three-pointer from the left corner and Janicenoks beat the buzzer with a put-back for Riga’s 49-38 halftime lead.
Lishchuk and Thomas Kelati scored layups and San Miguel sank a three-pointer as Valencia cut the difference to 53-46 after halftime. Rowland’s next triple kept Riga in control and Berzins made it a 12-point game again from close range, but Valencia went back to zone defense and cut it to 62-58 after Doellman hit twice from deep and Kelati made a driving layup. After a Riga timeout, Doellman continued his spree with a runner off the glass, a triple and a dunk, but the hosts stayed in front with three-pointers from Zavackas and Rowland. A tip-in from Ribas beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter, and Kelati hit a triple on the opening possession of the fourth for the first tie of the game, 70-70. Riga responded through Kavaliauskas and Rowland, but Markovic sunk a three while Ribas first nailed couple of jumpers and then hit a triple for Valencia’s first lead of the game, 78-80. Riga never stopped working on the offensive boards and regained 85-82 advantage with a layup from Jahovics after Rowland and Berzins combined to make 5 of 6 foul shots. The hosts went up 89-86 when Rowland sank a three-pointer with 29 seconds to go. Ribas hit 2 free throws, and after Rowland only split his pair, drove for a reverse layup with 6 seconds on the clock that forced overtime, 90-90.
Valencia grabbed the lead in the extra session as San Miguel hit a jumper. With tensions high and pressure mounting for both teams, buckets did not come easy. Berzins scored twice inside for the hosts, but Dubljevic made 3 of 4 free throws, and Markovic drove for an uncontested layup, making it 94-97. Doellman’s free throws made it a five-point diffference, and after Rowland’s layup gave hope for Riga, Dubljevic went on to make more free throws and seal the deal.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013