VEF Latvia defeated Astana Kazakhstan at home, 89-77 (20-15, 27-17, 21-22, 21-23).
VEF: Ken Brown (19 + 10 ast), Mareks Mejeris (13 + 6 reb), Alex Perez (12 + 6 reb + 6 ast), Kaspars Vecgaras (12)
Astana: Justin Carter (20 + 6 reb + 7 ast), Malcolm Grant (19), Ike Udanoh (12 + 7 reb)
VEF picked up a huge win at home on Monday night, defeating rival Astana, 89-77, behind 19 points and 10 assists from guard Ken Brown.
The two clubs began the day tied for the 8th and final playoff spot with only two games remaining on the schedule.
The game was competitive early on. Astana guard Malcolm Grant put the visitors on top, 15-14, drilling a 3-pointer. But the momentum quickly shifted as VEF scored six straight to close the period.
Leading 20-15, Riga never looked back. The home team went on a 14-3 run early in the 2nd, stretching the advantage to 14. Latvian guard Kaspars Vecvagars was huge, scoring nine points during the surge to make it a 34-20 game.
Though Astana would briefly pull within six, VEF stretched its lead back to 15 behind clutch 3-point shooting, 47-32 at halftime;
Fighting for a postseason bid, Astana simply couldn’t get enough stops, allowing VEF to shoot 66% from inside the arc.
The home team was in complete control during the second half, leading by double digits the entire way.
The victory lifts VEF to 8-15, alone in 8th place. The Latvians can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Tsmoki-Minsk next week.
Astana falls to 7-16 and needs to beat Avtodor at home for any chance at the postseason.
51-30 – VEF’s bench dominated its Kazakh counterparts, outscoring them by 21. The visitors got little production outside of Justin Carter and Malcolm Grant.
Riga on the Break
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) April 30, 2018
VEF head coach Janis Gailitis:
– We played as a team for most of the game. Our guys demonstrated their preparation, desire and discipline to secure this win. Plus, our bench played well. This was a team win and I want to thank the guys for their effort. Now we are focused on the next game, the last one of the regular season. But we won’t be dramatic. We’re going to prepare the same we have for every game and try to play our best basketball.
Astana head coach Mikhail Karpenko:
– Today we lost one of the most important games of the season. We had issues on defense in the first half. We refocused and gave our opponent a fight in the second half, but it’s very difficult to overcome a deficit like that on VEF’s court. Congratulations to VEF on the win. We have one game remaining in the VTB League, at home vs. Avtodor, and we will try to reward our fans with a win. As long as we have a theoretical chance of making the playoffs, we will do everything we can.
VEF: May 5 away vs. Tsmoki-Minsk
Astana: May 12 home vs. Avtodor
Images of the Game