Latvian champs defeat Treviso at the buzzer; Burgos remain in pole position
MIES (Switzerland) - Nutribullet Treviso were already preparing to work overtime in Riga, but with two seconds left coach Janis Gailitis called a timeout and drew up the winning play for Jalen Riley, handing VEF their second win of the Basketball Champions League season.
With the Latvian champions winning, and Falco Szombathely emerging victorious in Athens, it means that the 2018 champions AEK are stuck in fourth place and cannot advance to the next round no matter what happens on last Gameday.
Drama in Riga
Nutribullet Treviso had a chance to win Group D on Gameday 4, they had everything in their hands on Gameday 5, and now find themselves entering the final Gameday trailing Falco Szombathely by one win.
"For the first time this team, after four months, is in a little bit of trouble. That happens, throughout the year you have ups and downs. We are a little bit down, we have to work to come back and find our confidence," coach Massimiliano Menetti explained.
The Italian squad owned a 10-point lead in Latvia, but allowed VEF Riga to come back in the fourth quarter. Treviso then managed to erase a four-point gap in the final minute, DeWayne Russell knocking down two shots from the line to tie the score at 71-all with two seconds left to play.
But Janis Gailitis had a timeout in his hands. He drew up a play that didn't go according to plan, but he won't mind. The ball found its way to Jalen Riley, his stepback in the left corner was a thing of beauty as the buzzer sounded - three-pointer gave VEF Riga a 74-71 win.
"It was a pretty exciting game," Riley said after the game.
"We fought hard because we had a lot of guys who were banged up, a lot of injuries, so we had to step up in a big way. Guys had to step up, and leave it all on the floor. It came down to the last shot and we were lucky enough to get out with a win. Big win for us."
Riley finished with 19 points, and remained positive while hanging out with the media members.
"My last game winner? I got a few, I'm trying to think of a good one. I hit one on the road in France that was a big one. This one was nice. It was much needed, too," he said with a smile on his face.
Kristers Zoriks and Ron Curry had 13 each, Maris Gulbis scored 10 off the bench for VEF.
Treviso got 15 points from Russell, 14 from Giordano Bortolani, 11 from Michal Sokolowski, but fall to 3-2 with consecutive defeats in Hungary and Latvia. To finish first, they need to defeat AEK next week, and hope for a bit of help from VEF Riga, who need to take down Falco Szombathely.
2018 champs drop out
The result in Latvia was known by the start of the fourth quarter in Greece. AEK were already down by eight points when it was clear that a defeat would lock them in fourth place, keeping them out of Play-In contention.
Stefanos Dedas men rallied back, made it interesting by cutting the gap to single possession, but every time they were close to taking the lead, Benedek Varadi came back with an answer. Varadi's 20 points, 12 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal will surely promote him to a Team of the Month candidate.
Zoltan Perl scored 18 points, Boris Barac added 15 off the bench, Szilard Benke had 15 as a starter, and Akos Keller had 11 points and 15 rebounds, getting the highlight plays for the Hungarian champions.
Falco Szombathely won the game 89-84. In just one magical night, they have ended a contender's dream to advance, overtaken Treviso and put themselves in perfect position to win the group in a home game against VEF Riga next week.
For AEK, it was an emotional night, in which the final score - as painful as it looks - doesn't even matter. The Queen said one last goodbye to Stevan Jelovac by retiring his jersey. Jelovac was only 32.
For more on that game, click here.
Besiktas in trouble, Burgos in pole position
The defending champions had their troubles through the first three months of the 2021-22 campaign, but it seems that they've found their BCL rhythm under new coach Salva Maldonado.
Hereda San Pablo Burgos started strong against Besiktas Icrypex and did not look back, leading the game for 39 minutes and 24 seconds. It finished 82-75, keeping Burgos in first place ahead of their duel with Rytas Vilnius in Spain next week. Winner of that one will also be winner of the entire group, move to the Round of 16 directly.
Tyrus McGee had a team-high 15 points, Kristian Kullamae knocked down 4-of-4 from deep for 12 points, Julian Gamble also had 12, and Marc Garcia scored 11.
"We're very thankful for our fans who traveled all the way from Spain to come and watch us and support us. We're very happy for that. We moved the ball well, played well as a team, it was a good team win," Hayden Dalton said, getting 9 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists on his BCL debut for Burgos.
The Spaniards have now won four of their five BCL games, they also have four wins in the Spanish League, but done in 13 games.
¿No seremos nosotros? pic.twitter.com/4mGz4nlA1T— Hereda San Pablo Burgos (@SanPabloBurgos) December 14, 2021
Besiktas got 18 points and 7 rebounds off the bench from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but coach Ahmet Kandemir knows the Turkish juggernauts have a do-or-die game coming up next. They've got EWE Baskets Oldenburg in town next week, a defeat could leave Besiktas out of the next phase.
"We have a team with a lot of potential, it doesn't matter if we are playing second or third placed team, we have a big chance to advance to the Round of 16," Kandemir remains optimistic.
BCL season-low for Lavrio
The start of the BCL season was a slow one by his standards, but David Holston in back to his very best. The 35-year-old point guard had 18 points with 7 assists and 4 steals, leading JDA Dijon to a 73-49 win over Lavrio Megabolt.
Dijon's defense was impressive on the night, becoming the first team to hold their opponent to below 50 points in a BCL game this season. They are also the first team to combine 13 steals and 5 blocks this season, buying into coach Nenad Markovic's philosophy completely.
Lavrio got 14 points and 13 rebounds from Dimitrios Kaklamanakis, but they are now in trouble. A win for Nizhny Novgorod over Dijon paired with a Lavrio defeat to Unicaja would send Lavrio out next week.
Meanwhile, Unicaja could advance to the Round of 16 on Wednesday. A win over Nizhny Novgorod would send the Spaniards to 4-1, with a tiebreaker over 3-2 Dijon.