BK Ventspils escaped with a thrilling 91-93 win over Snaidero in a crucial Group B encounter in Udine, Italy, on Tuesday. The win was Ventspils fourth straight and raised the team's record to 6-3 and second place in the group. Snaidero dropped to 5-4 and slipped to third place. Dusan Jelic scored 11 points in the first 6 minutes to push Ventspils ahead 8-16 early in the game, but Snaidero answered with a 23-7 run in the second quarter to lead 43-32. Ventspils came right back with an 11-0 run to tie the score at 43-43. The game remained tight throughout the second half. Midway through the last quarter, Ventspils had a 6-0 spurt to go up 75-81. The hosts answered with an 11-4 run of their own to go ahead 86-85, before Eddie Shannon shot an incredible triple for an 86-88 lead and Ventspils never looked back. Dalron Johnson led Ventspils with 19 points, Eddie Shannon scored 6 of his 17 points in the last two minutes and dished 7 assists, Jelic added 16 with 6 rebounds and Aigars Vitols netted 14. Two players of Snaidero amassed double-doubles: Kristaps Valters drained 20 points and distributed 10 assists, while Jacobs Jaacks scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Larry O'Bannon added 14 points and Damon Williams and Chrsitian Di Giuliomaria tallied 10 points apiece.
Jelic fueled Ventspils with 4 straight points to open the scoring and Vitols capped a 7-0 from downtown run for the perennial Latvian champs, before O'Bannon nailed a pair of free throws for Snaidero's first points after five missed field goal attempts. Jelic converted a three-point play to make it 2-10, however Week 8 MVP Kristaps Valters hit a three to cut the cushion to 5. Jelic quickly reached double figures in points with a mid-range jumper and then two free throws to push Ventspils to 8-16. Di Giuliomaria and Joel Zacchetti tried to keep their side on track, reducing the difference to 16-17, but newcomer Kaspars Cipruss stepped up with layup to push Snaidero away. Johnson fixed a 17-24 advantage for Ventspils, Silvio Gigena hit a three, and Cipruss scored from the foul line to end the first period with the visitors ahead 20-26. Williams highlighted a 9-0 run early in the second quarter and Valters capped it with a three to change the momentum of the game and put Snaidero in front, 29-26. The hosts looked unstoppable and followed their run with Gigena throwing down a pair of dunks to make it a 20-5 run, which put Udine up 40-31 with 4 minutes left till halftime. Filiberto Dri gave the hosts their first double-digit cushion at 43-32, but things were about to change. Raimonds Vaikulis and Johnson fueled an 11-0 run that helped Ventspils to get back and ti the game at 43-43. Valters found his way for an easy layup, but Johnson's three returned the lead to Ventspils. However young Michele Antonutti drilled back-to-back triples and Di Giulomaria added a hoop for a slim 51-48 Snaidero advantage at halftime.
Jaacks opened the third quarter by pushing Snaidero to 53-48, but Vitols and Shannon tied it immediately at 53-53. Patrick Mutombo boosted the hosts to 59-53 before Ulvis Helmanis's second triple tied it at 61-61 midway through the quarter. Jelic's three-point play put the visitors up 63-64. O'Bannon scored a mid-range jumper for a 68-64 lead. Vitols chipped in 5 consecutive points for a slim 68-69 margin for Ventspils, while Helmanis scored from the foul line for a 68-70 margin for Ventspils after 30 minutes. The last quarter started with a triple from O'Bannon for another lead change. Raimonds Gabrans answered as Jaacks and Jelic exchanged layups with the guests still in front 73-75. Johnson raised the margin to 75-79 with 5 minutes left in the game, Valters missed a triple, while Vitols assisted Cipruss for an easy dunk to stay ahead 75-81. The Latvian guard of Snaidero didn't give up and from downtown kept his side on charge, but Johnson was still focused and grabbed an offensive rebound to dunk and maintain a 78-83 advantage for the guests. Entering the last 2 minutes of the game, Jaacks and Justin Love scored layups, but it was again Valters that fueled Snaidero with a triple and a free throw to make it 86-85. Shannon's triple put the visitors back up and Snaidero missed three of four free throws with Jaacks and Valters, while Johnson was perfect for an 87-91 cushion. In the last seconds, Shannon scored two more to stay in front 89-93 and the last triple netted by O'Bannon wasn't enough for winning, as Ventspils took a thrilling, but deserved win.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007