VEF Riga remained in the running for a return trip to the Kaunas final of the ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT by fending off CSKA Moscow 77-87 to remain undefeated in Group B. Rodions Kurucs collected 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and four blocks in helping VEF Riga move to 2-0 in the group. Verners Kohs added 13 points while Kristers Zorkis picked up 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and six steals and Karlis Silins chipped in 11 points. Riga reached the Kaunas final last season but lost to home side Zalgiris Kaunas. CSKA Moscow dropped to 0-2 despite Alexander Kurbatov collecting 34 points and 10 rebounds while Daniil Trostin scored 19 points and Evgeni Iudin had 10 points.
VEF Riga jumped ahead 0-9 with Kurucs hitting a three-pointer and Silins scoring two baskets. After failing to score on its first six possessions, Kurbatov finally got CSKA Moscow on the board with two free throws. He completed a three-point play and hit another shot as CSKA scored the next nine points to even the game at 9-9. Kurucs stopped the CSKA run but the game was tight throughout the rest of the first quarter with four ties and three lead changes when Trostin made it 18-16. Andrei Lopatin’s three-point play made it 21-16 and the gap was 21-18 after 10 minutes. Aleksandr Kuzentcov opened the second quarter before Silins scored and Kurucs threw down a dunk to cut the gap to 23-22. Kurbatov answered with three free throws to increase the margin to four points. After Kurucs knotted it at 26-26, Kurbatov nailed a three-ball and added two foul shots for a 31-26 advantage. Zigmars Raimo evened the game again at 31-31 before Kurbatov’s free throws gave him 22 points and CSKA Moscow a 35-31 lead. Two straight baskets from Iudin pushed the margin to 39-33 before Kurucs’ layup just before the buzzer to make it 39-35 at intermission.
Iudin started the scoring in the second half and two Trostin free throws had CSKA Moscow ahead 43-37. But VEF Riga began taking over the game. Kristaps Feikners, Zorkis and Kohs scored to even the game at 43-43 and Kohs’ three-ball made it 45-46. Trostin’s score had CSKA as close as 47-48 but Eduards Hazners knocked down a three-ball and added another basket to open a 47-55 cushion. Trostin tried to keep the Russian side in the game at 54-60, but Silins and Kohs scored to increase the margin to 54-64. And the lead was 56-66 after three quarters. Kurucs extended the advantage to 56-68 to start the fourth quarter before Lopatin made it a nine-point game with a three-pointer. It was 61-70 when Kurucs and Kohs scored consecutive baskets for a 13-point cushion. And two Zorkis baskets increased the VEF Riga lead to 66-83 with 2:42 minutes remaining. CSKA closed the gap to 10 points but there was only 29 seconds left.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
David Hein, Euroleague.net