VEF Riga held on to beat BCM Gravelines on the road 62-69 in Group I as it led most of the way and fended off the visitors’ repeated attempts to overtake them. With the win Riga is now tied at 2-2 and locked in a duel with Nymburk, which has the same record. Gravelines slipped to 0-4. The game featured a combined 19 three-pointers, 10 of them by the winners, who also outshot the opponent from two-point range. Kaspars Berzins led Riga with 19 points, Sandis Valters had 15 and Gatis Jahovics added 11. Juby Johnson paced the losers with 12 points, and J.K. Edwards contributed 11 with 6 assists.
Scoring opened slowly, with Riga taking a 2-4 lead after three minutes on a dunk by Kaspars Berzins. After free throws by the hosts’ Ludo Vaty, Berzins nailed a two-shot to push the score to 4-6. The offensive flow picked up as Rudy Jomby and Valters exchanged three-pointers, then Vaty put in a layup to tie the game at 9-9. Berzins added another triple, answered by Andrew Albicy, then Rigas’s Dairis Bertrans knocked down yet another from deep as the scoreboard climbed to 12-15. The visitors shifted their scoring inside as Gatis Jahovics and Tyler Cain hit a layup to grab a 12-19 advantage. Then Gravelines surged forward with a 7-1 run on baskets by Juby Johnson and Juan-Khalif Edwards along with 2 points from the foul line to end the first quarter 19-20. Riga responded with a 2-6 run to start the quarter as Berzins scored a pair of two-pointers and Jahovics dunked, opening a 23-28 margin. A three-point barrage ensued: Valters nailed one for Riga, then Johnson banged in three consecutive bombs for Gravelines, followed by yet another, this time by Bertrans, as the hosts grabbed a 35-34 edge. After Cain hit a layup, Berzins added a three, swinging the lead back in favor of Riga 36-39. Cain and Edwards swapped two-pointers as the half ended with the visitors holding on to the lead, 38-41.
Riga came out in the third quarter with a 5-0 run, featuring another triple by Berzins, to open a 38-46 margin. After a 3-minute scoring lull, Siim-Sander Vene drained another three for Riga, which took its first double-digit lead, 38-49. The three-point festival continued as Valters and Cyril Akpomedah each hit from downtown, pushing the score to 41-52. Scoring slowed to a crawl for the next 4 minutes as Jomby and Bertrans each put in layups, then Edwards and Yannick Bokolo added free throws to set the scoreboard at 46-54 at the end of the third quarter. J.R. Reynolds got Gravelines out of the gate with a triple and Dounia Issa added a foul shot, cutting the lead to 50-54. Jahovics knocked in a layup and free throw, but then Bokolo dunked and Edwards drained two consecutive two-pointers, pulling Gravelines close, 56-58, with 2:25 on the clock. Jahovics worked down low again, scoring a layup, Akpomedah answered in kind, then Antanas Kavaliauskas produced another basket in the paint as Riga stayed out front, 58-62, with just over 1 minute to play. Valters iced the game for the visitors, following free throws with a three-pointer, then Kavaliauskas dunked as Riga grabbed the victory 62-69.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012