Kalev/Cramo advance despite Barons' heroics

RIGA – The series between Barons kvartals and Kalev/Cramo unexpectedly turned into a thriller, as the Latvians returned from 19 points down just to be shut down in the final minutes. Barons won 77-66, but the Estonian club will move on to the Semis.

 

With a 19-point advantage heading into the game, Kalev/Cramo had to feel confident. Nevertheless, the Latvians promised they‘d put up a great fight, and that was apparent already in the first quarter.

Barons played some good basketball in the first quarter, but couldn‘t get a tangible lead despite jumping ahead by 5 points mid-way through the first ten minutes. It was an intense bout with the Latvians leading by one after the first segment.

We saw a couple of highlight plays from both sides in the second quarter, as Mickell Gladness and Denis Krestinin tested out the strength of the baskets with rim-rattling dunks. As the teams traded slams, the score remained in balance. That was a sight that pleased the Estonians more, of course. Before the half ended, Barons kvartals had brought some thrill into the series, as they had a 7 point advantage at halftime, meaning there was only 12 points to return in the second part of the game.

While Kalev/Cramo didn‘t make that task easy for the Latvians, they managed to cut into the deficit even more in the first minutes of the half. After an unsportsmanlike foul stopping a fast break, Barons made it a five-point possession with two free-throws and a three-pointer, raising their advantage to 14, and nearly wiping out the 19-point deficit from the first leg.

Barons kvartals continued their magic and got another couple buckets to go, as they tied the combined result of the series, having won the third quarter 25-13.

The margin floated around that 20-point mark for most of the final quarter, with neither side able to make any breathing room for themselves. With three minutes to go, Kalev/Cramo had a six-point advantage in the series, as they managed to trim the deficit of the return leg to 13 points.

The Latvians couldn‘t convert on a couple of shots and ended up winning by just 11 points, not enough to see them through to the next round.

Davis Geks was the top-scorer for Barons, as he dropped 20 points. Tyler Larson was impressive in the third-quarter run but was completely shut down in the fourth, as he ended up with 16 points. Denis Krestinin was solid as always, contributing big time with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals.

For the Estonians, the duo of Vitali Liutych and Cedric Simmons scored 18 points apiece, as Simmons also tallied 9 boards. Branko Mirkovic had 10 points, while Mark Tollefsen ended up with 8.