19 September, 2017
06 May, 2018
5 Ousman Krubally (GRE)
Game Report
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PAOK advance in do or die match-up with Ventspils

VENTSPILS (Basketball Champions League) - PAOK advanced to the Round of 16 with a 80-59 road win over Ventspils on Tuesday night.

In a do-or-die game, with whoever wins advancing, PAOK pulled away for good in the fourth quarter where they held the home-side to just five points.

PAOK were boosted by their bench, with their top three scorers being non-starters, led by 13 from Vangelis Margaritis, a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double from Ousman Krubally and a further 12 from Vassilis Charalampopoulos. 

Phillip Goss also played a crucial role, having 10 points and 3 assists for the visitors.

PAOK finished in third place in Group B with the win, coming up victorious in five of their last six games on the season to advance.

"I want to congratulate Ventspils," PAOK's Lucky Jones said after the contest.

"They played a hard-fought game, brought all their energy and effort, especially knowing how important this game was. We came here with the mindset of just getting it done, possession by possession for the full 40 minutes. Super proud of my team and super proud of the coaching staff and the plan that they put together. We came in here and handled our business."

Qualification is a remarkable turnaround for PAOK, said their Head Coach Ilias Papatheodorou:

"I remember two months ago, on December 5th, we had a record of 1-5 and no-one believed in us, except us. We worked really hard, we improved many things, small things, we stayed together inside the team and now we have this result."

Emmanuel Ubilla had 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists to lead Ventspils but was the only player in double figures, as the captain Maris Gulbis had 8 points as the next highest scoring output for the home team.

PAOK took a slim first quarter lead before using an 13-2 run to start the second to pull away, getting their largest lead at that point of 15, 36-21 after a Margaritis triple with the bench leading from the front.

Freimanis inspired a comeback for Ventspils, scoring 8 points in a matter of minutes but Ventspils still trailed 46-36 at the half.

With the home team fighting back, Charalampopoulos bullied his way to the rim to punctuate a 9-2 run for PAOK to give them a double digit lead once again, 62-52 with a couple of minutes left in the third period.

With Ventspils still hanging around, it wasn't until back to back threes, one from Charalampopoulos and the second from Goss gave PAOK a 77-59 lead and proved to be enough of a cushion to hold on the rest of the way.

PAOK will join another Greek club in the Basketball Champions League Play-Offs, since AEK also won on Tuesday, winning their ticket to the Round of 16 starting on 6-7 March.