In a seesaw battle that ended in overtime, VEF Riga outdueled CEZ Nymburk on the road 80-84, keeping its hopes alive for a Group I spot in the Eurocup quarterfinals. While Riga lifted its record to 3-2, it fell short in the head-to-head point differential with Nymburk, making next week’s game decisive. If Riga beats Valencia, it will advance; if it loses and Nymburk wins, the Czech champs squeeze through. Nymburk could not hold on to a 66-61 lead with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, as Dairis Bertans hit 4 foul shots with 39 seconds left to force the overtime, then the visitors outscored Nymburk 12-16 to grab the win. Bertans led the winners with 21 points, while Sandis Valters netted 16, Gatis Jahovics had 13 and Curtis Millage scored 12 with 7 assists. Peter Benda led Nymburk with 22 points and Tre Simmons pitched in 19.
The game set a rapid pace at the outset as CEZ Nymburk opened a 10-6 lead after three minutes, with Pavel Pumprla and Benda doing all the scoring. But VEF Riga responded with a 7-0 run behind a pair of two-pointers by Bertans and a triple by Donatas Zavackas, giving the visitors a 10-13 edge. After an exchange of two-pointers, Nymburk scored 7 straight, as Tre Simmons nailed a three-pointer and foul shots, to retake the lead, 23-17. Kasper Berzins and Simmons swapped short-range baskets, then Millage put in a layup and Zavackas drained another two-pointer for Riga, ending the first quarter with the hosts up 25-23. After a scoring lull to start the second quarter, Millage banged in a two-pointer then Mike Lenzly connected from downtown to keep Nymburk out front 28-25. Nymburk surged farther ahead with a 9-2 spurt, led by Lenzly’s 5 points, pushing the score to 37-27. Simmons added a layup, but then Gatis Jahovics and Zavackas each drained a three and Millage knocked down free throws as Riga ended scoring for the half with a 2-9 run, cutting the lead to 39-36.
Jahovics scored a layup and free throw then Bertrans buried a triple followed by a layup as the visitors continued on the attack to take a 39-44 lead. Benda hit a two-point jumper for Nymburk, then after a dry spell for both teams Antanas Kavaliauskas answered for Riga, pushing the score to 41-46. Nymburk pulled close on a two-pointer by Eugene Lawrence and foul shots by Benda, but free throws and a three-pointer by Sandis Valters gave the visitors breathing room again, 45-50. The quarter ended with a layup by Lamayne Wilson and another triple by Bertrans, as the visitors edged further out front 48-55. Nymburk started the final 10 minutes with a 6-0 run, behind free throws and a short-range jumper by Simmons, to trim the difference to 54-55. The scoreboard moved ahead on an exchange of two-pointers and free throws, then Pumprla put in a layup to give the hosts a 62-59 edge. Valters and Simmons swapped two-pointers, then Lenzly slammed home a dunk to give the hosts a 66-61 lead with 2 minutes to go. Bertans banked in a layup and Valters added a free throw, as Riga climbed to 66-64 with a 1 minute on the clock. Benda scored in the paint, then Bertrans received an unsportsmanlike foul, giving him 4 foul shots: he hit all four, tying the game at 68-68 with 39 seconds left. Simmons took the potentially game-winning shot at the buzzer and missed, forcing the game into overtime.
Benda and Jahovics exchanged baskets in the paint along with foul shots, then Bertrans knocked in a layup as Riga grabbed a 71-73 lead. After Benda added 3 points from the foul line, Kavaliauskas drained a short-range jumper, Jahovics hit a basket in the paint and Valters added free throws, extending the visitors margin to 74-79 with just over 1 minute to go. Foul shots accounted for the rest of the scoring, with the hosts getting a 6-5 edge, not enough to force another overtime or retake the lead as Riga pulled off a hard-fought victory on the road, 80-84.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012