VEF Riga survived a tough test in difficult Group B by edging PAOK BC 80-74 in the Latvian capital on Tuesday. Courtney Sims led the winners with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Curtis Millage had 14 of his 18 points in the final 15 minutes to lead VEF in crunch time. Dairis Bertans added 14 points while Antanas Kavaliauskas got 11 for VEF. JR Giddens led PAOK with 17 points. Marcus Goree added 16, Dimos Dikoudis had 12 while Rashad Wright got 11 for the guests. Giddens and Dikoudis helped PAOK to get a 15-19 edge late in the first quarter. An outstanding Kavaliauskas allowed VEF to tie the game, 23-23, after 10 minutes. Sims and Bertans shined in the second quarter to give VEF a 44-38 edge but Giddens and Ioannis Kalampokis brought the guests within 45-44 at the break. A jumper by Giddens gave PAOK its last lead, 47-48, soon after the break. A 10-2 run that Marque Perry capped with free throws gave VEF the lead for good, 61-53. PAOK managed to get within 69-65 on a three-point play by Dikoudis but Bertans and Millage shined in crunch time to make all VEF fans celebrate a big win.
Bertans got VEF going with a three-point play and Millage added free throws for a 5-0 lead. Goree sank a jumper that Sims matched with free throws. A layup by Wright and a three-point play by Dikoudis helped PAOK to tie it at 7-7. VEF kept getting its big men involved as Kaspars Berzins and Sims helped the hosts to get a 12-9 edge. Back-to-back baskets by Giddens and Wright, however, gave PAOK its first lead at 12-13. Goree and Dikoudis kept pacing PAOK and got some help from Kalampokis to get a 15-19 edge. VEF found a go-to guy in Kavaliauskas, who had 6 points late in the first quarter and a layup by Perry tied it at 23-23 after 10 minutes. Dante Stiggers struck from downtown and Dikoudis added a jumper but Sims singlehandedly tied it at 28-28. VEF kept playing up-tempo and a layup by Sandis Valters allowed his team to regain the lead, 33-31. Wright followed a jumper with a triple but Perry and a dunk by Sims made VEF get a 39-36 edge. Bertans struck from downtown and a layup by Sims made PAOK stop the game at 44-38. Giddens and Kalampokis allowed PAOK to get within 45-44 at halftime.
Berzins hit a jumper right after the break but back-to-back baskets by Michail Giannakidis and Giddens allowed PAOK to regain the lead, 47-48. Kristaps Janicenoks stepped up with a jumper and a dunk by Sims sent the crowd to their feet at 51-48. Goree tied the game with a layup-plus-foul but 5 unanswered points by Millage and a big triple by Bertans allowed VEF to get a 59-53 margin. Perry hit free throws to make PAOK call timeout at 61-53. Kavaliauskas shined with a put-back layup that Kalampokis bettered with a three-pointer. A jumper by Sims gave VEF a 65-57 margin after 30 minutes. Goree followed a triple with a jumper to bring PAOK within 65-62 early in the fourth quarter. Janicenoks rescued VEF with a jumper and a power basket by Sims gave the hosts some fresh air, 69-62, with under 6 minutes to go. Dikoudis took over with a layup-plus-foul but Bertans beat the shot clock buzzer with a jumper and Millage forced PAOK to call timeout, 73-65, with over 3 minutes left. A three-point play by an unstoppable Millage sealed the outcome, 76-66, as PAOK never recovered.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011