VEF Latvia defeated Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus at home, 70-66 (13-20, 19-17, 18-20, 20-9).
VEF: Glenn Cosey (11 + 7 ast), Andrejs Grazulis (10 + 7 reb), Andris Misters (10), Jabril Durham (10)
Tsmoki-Minsk: Mikita Meshcharakou (11), Zisis Sarikopoulos (10 + 7 reb), Euheni Belyankou (10)
VEF was eliminated from postseason contention with Kalev’s win over PARMA, but the Latvians rallied in the 4th quarter to take down last-place Tsmoki-Minsk.
Glenn Cosey hit the decisive free throws in the closing seconds and Tsmoki’s Euheni Beliankou missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer to keep the Belarusians in last place.
VEF, despite missing out on the postseason, has now won seven of its last 12 games, an impressive turnaround after beginning the season 2-11.
Both teams were limited offensively, shooting 42% (Tsmoki) and 39% (VEF) from the field.
Trailing most of the contest after giving up a 9-0 run to end the 1st quarter, VEF broke through in the final period with smothering defense. The home team limited Minsk to only nine points, steadily chipping away at the deficit before Jabril Durham’s 3-pointer gave Riga its first lead since the opening period (66-64).
Zisis Sarikopoulos threw down an alley-oop from Devon Saddler to make it a one-point game (67-66) with a little more than a minute remaining, but those were the final points Tsmoki scored. Saddler missed a chance to give the Belarusians the lead in the late going, before Cosey hit the crucial free throws to put VEF up three.
VEF could still finish as high as 9th place, depending on Enisey and Avtodor results. Tsmoki misses a chance to catch PARMA in the standings, dropping to 3-21.
20-9 – Riga’s advantage in the 4th quarter changed the outcome of the game.