Ventspils win game one, lead by two

VENTSPILS – The first game of the Baltic Basketball League finals proved to be just as exciting, as could be expected, with a nail-biting finish to top it off. Ventspils had the home-court advantage and only managed to take two points out of it, winning 70-68 (19-17; 15-15; 16-17; 20-19) against defending champions Siauliai.

 

The Lithuanians got off to a quick start, as they scored the first six point of the game. Nevertheless, it was all answered back shortly and the two sides continued trading bucket after bucket. Ventspils closed out the first frame with two successful possessions and jumped ahead by two points.

Despite a monstrous posterizing dunk by Modestas Kumpys in the early stages of the second quarter, nothing much after the first ten minutes. The two teams held each other by the neck and didn’t allow even the slightest of breathing space. As the minimal lead swung back and forth, Ventspils stayed on top by the same two points before halftime.

The Latvians got a couple of consecutive plays to go their way and managed to build a game-high 6-point lead, which all evaporated right before the final period, mostly due to Siauliai’s hustle plays and second-chance points.

Siauliai seemed to be the side in control of the pace in the last quarter, as Karolis Babkauskas opened it up with a trey, but even that didn’t help them create any sort of advantage. The nerves seemed to be kicking in and the final minutes were nail-biting to say the least. The crowd went wild when Ventspils finally managed to jump ahead, but their enthusiasm was cut short by Julius Jucikas’ slam dunk.

The score was all tied up at 68 with just 45 seconds to go and Harvey Grant pushed the advantage to the Latvian team’s favor. Siauliai had the perfect opportunity to even the score but just couldn’t convert on either of their two last-seconds shots.

Harvey Jeray Grant was the leading scorer and rebounder for Ventspils, as he tallied respectively 14 and 9. Kristaps Janicenoks was solid with 11 points to his name, while Akselis Vairogs and Maris Gulbis chipped in with 9 apiece.

Julius Jucikas and Gintaras Leonavicius led Siauliai with 14 points each, while Vytautas Sulskis was just a point short of a double-double. The team's captain scored 9 points and added 10 rebounds.