Uxue Bilbao Basket used a game-ending 16-2 run to rally past visiting VEF Riga 76-65 and into the quarterfinals with a first-place finish in Group J on Tuesday. The victory was the fourth straight for Bilbao, which finished the Last 16 with 4-2 record. Bilbao topped the group standings by virtue of two victories over second-place Valencia Basket, which also finished 4-2. In the quarterfinals, Bilbao will play ratiopharm Ulm of Germany. Riga was eliminated with 3-3 record even though it used some sharp shooting and tough defense to build a 13-27 lead midway through the second quarter. Triples from Alex Mumbru and Raul Lopez highlighted Bilbao's comeback as the hosts made a 12-2 run to grab a 37-36 halftime advantage. The teams traded leads for most of the second half, but after a three-pointer from Kristpas Janicenoks gave Riga a 53-58 lead, Lopez sparked Bilbao's comeback and Nikos Zisis hit a deal-sealing triple at 71-65 with 28 seconds left. Mumbru and Lopez each finished with 15 points for the winners. Adrien Moerman scored 14 and Lamont Hamilton chipped in with 12. Antanas Kavaliauskas led Riga with 12 points plus 8 rebounds, Kaspars Berzins had 11 points, while Janicenoks and Earl Rowland scored 10 apiece.
Will Daniels hit couple of jumpers to give Riga a lead in the early going, while Axel Hervelle put Bilbao in the scoring column. After Rowland and Kristaps Janicenoks added to the visitors' tally with jump shots, Daniels buried a three-pointer, and Berzins hit a couple of jumpers of his own for a 10-17 Riga advantage. In addition to hitting shots, Riga's defense held Bilbao without a field goal for more than 6 minutes. Meanwhile, the visitors scored 10 unanswered points, including a triple from the left corner by Dairis Bertans and one from Donatas Zavackas to bridge the first and second quarters for a high lead of 13-27. Mumbru snapped Bilbao's drought with a shot from downtown, sparking a 9-2 spurt, before Lopez hit his own to draw Bilbao within 30-33. Before the half ended, Roger Grimau dunked and Mumbru scored basket-plus-free throw to give Bilbao its first lead of the game, 37-36 at the break.
A fastbreak three-point play from Janicenoks got things going in the third quarter as teams started trading leads. Lopez nailed a triple for the hosts, and Bertans scored one for Riga at 41-44. Bilbao responded with a 6-0 run after a couple of baskets from Hamilton, but Riga answered right back with 7 unanswered points. Zavackas hit a triple, and Riga players made 6 of 8 free throws for 51-53 going into the fourth quarter. Kavaliauskas hit a jumper and Janicenoks sunk a triple to extend Riga's lead to 5 points before Hamilton and Moerman scored back-to-back inside baskets for Bilbao. After Mumbru nailed a triple for a 60-60 tie, the hosts took the lead for good with Lopez stringing together 4 points and dishing out an assist for Mumbru's layup at 66-63. After Kavaliauskas brought Riga within a single point, Hamilton downed a jumper and Zisis hit his triple as the hosts finished the game on a 10-0 run, starting a big celebration in Bilbao Arena.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013