Anwil Wloclawek won its first game of the season on Tuesday night, edging Ventspils 87-84 in a Group B thriller. Andrzej Pluta drilled four three-pointers on his way to a career-high 23 points to lead the hosts, who entered the night as the only remaining winless team in the ULEB Cup. Anwil improved to 1-4, while Ventspils dropped to 2-3. The game was a three-point shooting show, with Ventsplis making 15 triples, one more than the hosts, Charles Love missed one at the buzzer as Ventspils dropped to 2-3. Ventspils led by 10 after eight minutes, but Bartkomiej Woloszyn led a 12-0 run to get Anwil back in the game. The score remained close the rest of the way. Zbigniew Bialek had 14 for Anwil, Mark Dickel added 13 points and 7 assists, while Wiktor Grudzinski finished with 11 and 9 rebounds. Ntousan Koutsopoulos had 20 points and 8 rebounds for the Latvian champs. Eddie Shannon added 18, Aigars Vitols 14, Lamar Johnson 13 and Uvis Helmanis 10.
Helmanis opened the game with a triple on the first possession, setting the stage for things to come. Seid Hajric responded with a power dunk, but the visitors were red-hot. After five minutes, they lead 7-16 behind four three-pointers – including two from Vitols. That forced Awil to call timeout, which didn't change much. Koutsopoulos and Vitols added more bombs from downtown as Ventspils's lead reached double figures. Anwil couldn't find its rhythm, so it forced the game inside and drew some fouls. The hosts cut the gap thanks to free throws and that started their run. Grudzinski made a triple to end the first quarter with scoreboard 19-22, while Woloszyn added one for the first Anwil lead 24-22. Koutsopoulos snapped the run with a shot from the line, but Bialek made a triple to finish a 15-1 run. Ventspils called timeout and Justin Love's triple kept his team in touch at 34-31. Mladen Sokic drilled a triple to put Anwil up 39-31 at halftime.
Lamar Johnson got the things going early in the third quarter for Ventspils. He traded triples with Pluta and then got help from Koutsopoulos, who made his third triple of the night for 43-43 tie. Pluta and Dickel kept hosts ahead, but Ventspils was just behind thanks to more and more triples. Johnson and Shannon scored 9 consecutive points for a 52-58 Ventspils lead, but Anwil quickly responded with a 9-0 run. Pluta made a triple to open the last period and Anwil led again 62-61. Shannon responded with a layup for what would prove to be Ventsplils's last lead. Both teams continued their perimeter shooting, but the hosts were much more efficient. Pluta made a triple and Dickel two during a 13-4 run and Wloclawek had a double-digit advantage at 79-69 for the first time in the evening. With four minutes remaining, the visitors used all their energy to mount a comeback. After 2-11 run, including another triple from Helmanis, they cut the gap to 81-80. But Pluta made a very important jumper and Bialek's rebounds on both ends gave Anwil a safe advantage. Love had one last chance to equal the score, but missed a triple and the hosts finally won 87-84.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006