VEF Riga advanced to the Last 16 in Group B by edging PAOK BC 76-81 in Thessaloniki, Greece on Tuesday. VEF improved to 3-2 in Group B and will be second no matter what. Meanwhile, PAOK dropped to 1-4 and has no chance to make it to the next round. Kristaps Janicenoks paced the winners with 21 points. Kaspars Berzins and Curtis Millage each added 12, Antanas Kavaliauskas had 11 and 10 rebounds while Sandis Valters got 10 points for VEF. Marcus Goree led PAOK with 18 points. J.R. Giddens added 13, Dimos Dikoudis had 11 while Ioannis Kalampokis got 10 for the hosts, that led 21-20 after 10 minutes. Millage and Valters fueled a 0-8 run that gave VEF the lead, 27-31. Berzins and Courtney Sims helped VEF to boost its lead to 39-46 at halftime. A three-pointer by Janicenoks gave VEF its biggest lead, 49-61, midway through the third quarter. Kalampokis, Goree and Giddens allowed PAOK to get within 75-76 already in the final minute. Millage and Kalampokis split free throws but Janicenoks and Millage combined for 4-of-4 attempts from the foul line to seal the outcome in the final 12 seconds.
A layup by Goree and free throws Dikoudis ignited an opening 8-0 run that Giddens capped with a three-pointer. VEF went scoreless for more than 3 minutes until Janicenoks hit a jumper. Dikoudis scored down low and Goree split free throws for an 11-2 PAOK lead. Kavaliauskas and Goree traded baskets but free throws by Millage and a triple by Valters brought VEF back to life, 13-9. Dikoudis and Nikos Kalles hit foul shots but back-to-back triples by Janicenoks and Berzins and free throws by Marque Perry tied it at 17-17. Kalles hit free throws and fed Kalampokis for a layup but a triple by Dairis Bertans kept VEF within 21-20 after 10 minutes. Dante Stiggers stepped up with back-to-back baskets early in the second quarter and a jumper by Giddens gave PAOK a 27-23 margin. It didn't last long, however, as Millage and Valters combined for all points in a 0-8 run that gave VEF its first lead, 27-31. Giddens hit a jumper and a layup by Kalles tied it at 31-31. Kavaliauskas dunked it and another triple by Janicenoks allowed VEF to get a 32-36 edge. Giddens and Perry traded free throws and a jumper by Berzins made it a five-point game, 35-40. Kalles scored again but Sims and Berzins gave VEF a 39-46 margin at halftime.
Back-to-back jumpers by Michail Giannakidis and Dikoudis brought PAOK within 43-46 right after the break. Tyler Cain and Goree exchanged baskets but a layup by Bertans soon gave VEF a 45-50 edge. Millage shined with a layup in transition but VEF went scoreless for the next 3 minutes. Meanwhile, a layup by Goree and a jumper by Giddens brought PAOK as close as 49-52. Janicenoks and Berzins rescued VEF with consecutive three-pointers for a 49-58 margin. A red hot Janicenoks struck again from downtown to cap a 0-9 run. Rashad Wright hit foul shots and Goree improved Valters' jumper with a triple. Free throws by Goree and Kalampokis brought PAOK within 57-63 after 30 minutes. Kavaliauskas scored around the basket and Janicenoks nailed a jumper for a 57-67 VEF lead early in the fourth quarter. Goree and Dikoudis led a 6-0 run but Valters and Janicenoks stepped up with free throws for a 63-70 VEF lead. Giannakidis struck from downtown and a jumper by Goree brought PAOK back in the game, 68-70. Kavaliauskas hit free throws that Giddens matched with a put-back basket but Berzins gave VEF a 70-74 edge with 2 minutes to go. Kalampokis followed free throws with a three-point play but Kavaliauskas and Millage kept VEF ahead, 75-77, with 16 seconds left. Kalampokis split free throws but Janicenoks and Millage did not miss from the foul line to seal the outcome down the stretch.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011