Elan Chalon used overtime to defeat visiting BK Ventspils 97-89 and send the race for an elimination spots from Group B into the last week of the regular season. The last minute of the regulations was not for heartbreakers, with Justin Love forcing the match into an extra session for Ventspils after Darrel Mitchell missed the potential game-winner for the home fans. In the extra period, the teams exchanged leads until Ventspils led 85-86, but a final 12-3 run of the hosts gave the home fans in France a thrilling win to celebrate. Chalon and Ventspils have now the same 5-4 records as Koln 99ers, all tied in second place, and now must wait until the last week to know their destiny. Rowan Barrett led the way for Chalon with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. John Ford nailed 20 more points, Xavier Corosine 16 and Mitchell 12. Jimmy Baxter of Ventspils led all the scorers with 25 points. He also pulled down 8 rebounds, while Justin Love had 13 points, Uvis Helmanis 12 and three players - Aigars Vitols, Raimonds Gabrans and Akin Akingbala - 11 apiece.
Ventspils started the match strong, getting an early 3-13 margin after 6 minutes fueled by Akin Akingbala and Baxter. The hosts of Chalon tried to get back in the match late in the first quarter, as Barrett from downtown scored to climb within 10-15, but a last basket from three-point land by Helmanis gave a 10-18 cushion to Ventspils after the first quarter. Three consecutive points of Corosine reduced the difference to 16-18, but Baxter from long distance kept the visitors in charge for the 18-26. Rolan Roberts of Elan and Gabrans of Ventspils each scored from mid-range to make it 27-32, but it wasn't until the final minute of the second quarter that the hosts reduced the difference on a three-pointer at the buzzer by Corosine to 35-36 at halftime. Baxter tried again to help his side to escape, and Ventspils reached again a double-figure margin at 40-51 in the midway point of the third quarter, but the answer was a 8-0 Chalon run highlighted by Barrett to get as close as 48-51 late in the quarter. Helmanis and Love responded so that Ventspils still led 53-57 after 30 minutes. Roberts put Chalon closer, at 56-58, to begin the final quarter, but was answered by back-to-back baskets of Vitols from mid range. John Ford from the foul line tried to keep Chalon on fire, and was copied by Philippe Braud who nailed a three-pointer to tie 63-63 with 5 minutes to play. Vitols hit another three, but Ford tied one more time at 68-68, and the thriller was served! Gabrans gave a 70-73 advantage to the guests, but back-to-back baskets by Barrett from downtown put Chalon in front 78-74 with less than a minute left. Jermaine Guice scored just 1 of his 2 free throws and Love forced the game to the overtime. Martin Skirmants opened the extra session giving a 81-83 advantage to Ventspils, then the lead changed three times, before entering in the last minute. Guice scored for a new Chalon advantage, 87-86. Barrett gave a 91-86 margin to the hosts, Baxter answered again from downtown but it was the last breath for Ventspils, as a 6-0 final run ensured the victory to the French team.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008