What could have been a transition game in Group B turned out to be one of the most thrilling showdowns so far this season, as BK Ventspils edged Anwil Wloclawek 84-82 at home on a game-winning layup by Raimonds Gabrans. Ventspils finished Group B with a 7-3 record and had clinched the second spot in this group last week, while Anwil finished fifth with a 3-7 record but was already out of the elimination rounds race. Justin Love led the winners with 15 points, Kaspars Cipruss added 14 on 5-of-6 shooting, Gabrans added 11 and Dalron Johnson 10 for Ventspils. Goran Jagodnik led Anwil with 24 points, Seid Hajric added 15 and 8 rebounds while Andrzej Pluta had 14 for the guests. Anwil rallied in the final 5 minutes of an otherwise balanced game and got a 78-79 edge with 2 minutes to go. Free throws by Cipruss and Gabrans gave Ventspils a 82-81 lead entering the final minute, in which Gatis Jahovics and Zbigniew Bialek combined for just 1 of 4 free throws for a 82-82 tie. It happened to be decisive, as Gabrans found space for the game-winning layup in the closing seconds.
Anwil had a strong start, as Jagodnik scored inside, Otis Hill dunked it and Bialek added another layup for a 2-6 lead. Shannon tried to get Ventspils going with free throws, but Jagodnik answered from downtown to keep the guests ahead, 4-9. Ventspils opted to attack the basket, as Love and Shannon hit free throws in a 8-1 run in which Ivars Timermanis followed one from downtown with a layup to give Ventspils its first lead, 12-11. Points started to arrive the hard way, but a mid-range jumper by Pluta and another basket by Bialek made Anwil regain the lead, 15-16. Love shined with a three-point play and even when Hajric scored in the paint, a close basket by Cipruss and a big triple by Raimonds Gabrans gave the hosts a 23-18 lead after 10 minutes. Johnson followed a layup-plus-foul with a layup to force an Anwil timeout at 28-20. Nikola Otasevic and Akselis Vairogs exchanged triples, but free throws by Hajric and an easy layup by Jahovics got Anwil within 31-27 midway through the second quarter. Shannon rescued Ventspils with a jumper and Love soon added one from downtown, but Jagodnik answered the same way to keep Anwil close, 38-33. Free throws by Uvis Helmanis and Jagdonik fixed the halftime score at 42-35.
Pluta paced Anwil after the break, following a three-pointer by a jumper to bring the guests within 44-40. Love fired in a triple and Cipruss scored in the paint, but Jagodnik and a red hot Pluta kept Anwil in the game, 51-47. Cipruss dunked it but Jagodnik answered from downtown and Hajric added a layup to get Anwil within 53-52. Kamil Michalski had 5 points in a 0-6 Anwil run which gave the guests a 55-58 edge. Cipruss led Ventspils with a layup and free throws but more foul shots by Jagodnik and a jumper by Pluta allowed Anwil to keep a 61-62 edge after 30 minutes. Vairogs and Vaikulis made consecutive layups to make Ventspils regain the lead, 65-62, early in the final period. Hajric scored inside and Jagodnik added his trademark jumper, but Vaikulis answered twice to make Anwil call timeout at 69-66. Anwil improved its defense while Otasevic and Pluta got Anwil within 73-72. Gabrans made foul shots while Bialek and Johnson exchanged baskets, but Otasevic fired in a critical triple to tie the game at 77-77. Anwil regained the lead, 78-79, on free throws by Jahovics. Cipruss answered the same way but Hajric scored inside for a 80-81 Anwil edge. Gabrans was next in the foul line and made both for a 82-81 Ventspils lead already in the final minute. Jahovics drew Cipruss' fifth foul but missed twice and even when Bialek hit 1 of 2 free throws to tie it at 82-82, Gabrans became the game hero by hitting the game-winning layup for Ventspils.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007