Liepaja/Triobet squeeze past Ventspils

LIEPAJA – Liepaja/Triobet came out victorious 71-70 after a nail-biting semifinal against Ventspils. The home side will now face TU/Rock in the Olybet BBL Cup final.

 

Liepaja/Triobet came into the game firing with all cylinders and were early to grab a double digit lead. The home side jumped ahead 15-3 to start the game, just to see the lead melt until the end of the quarter. Ventspils scored 12 unanswered points to silence the nearly packed Liepaja Olympic Centre.

Neither team could get the best of their opponents in the second quarter, as both teams struggled to find the net throughout the remainder of the half. The scoreboard showed 29-27 – a two-point lead for Liepaja entering the break.

While both teams got scratch on the offensive end, Ventspils suffered a big blow not even halfway through the third quarter, as Harvey Grant quickly picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in less than a minute, forcing him to sit out the rest of the game. The Latvian teams traded free-throw after free-throw and before the fourth quarter, the score was all tied – 47 apiece.

Ventspils had the upper hand at first, but the home side managed to turn it around with an 8-0 run to get back in front. A couple of great defensive plays and a circus finish from Dwayne Johnson pushed Liepaja/Triobet’s lead to seven. Ventspils quickly responded with two three-pointers, Liepaja missed two of their six free-throws and were still in front by four with 5 seconds remaining. Mire Chatman closed the game with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to trim the lead to a single point.

Liepaja’s hero of the day, Dwayne Johnson, was adamant that despite the fact that a couple weeks ago, TU/Rock were demolished by 28 points, tomorrow their opponents will be in much better shape than when they last met them.

“They’re a great team, they play really really hard. I am sure the game will be much more difficult than the last time we faced them. You can clearly see that they’re in much better shape now. As for me, I’m going to give it a 110% every night. And I know everyone puts in the extra amount of effort. It’s definitely going to be a team thing!”

Johnson had game-highs with 22 points and 6 assists for Liepaja/Triobet, while Gints Atrops added 12.

For Ventspils, Andrejs Grazulis was the top scorer with 18 points. Mire Chatman added 13, while Troy Barnies contributed 11.