Skonto pick up their third win in the FIBA Europe League with a close 81-75 victory over Ukranian outfit BC Kyiv. Once again the Latvians were led by young center Andris Biedrins, who had 26 points and opened the scoring with two free throws.
Both teams played about equal in the first minutes and seemed to struggle with their scoring. But all of a sudden the hosts found their touch and outscored Kyiv 9-2 in the last minutes before the first break. After one quarter Riga led 23-16.
Skonto kept on going in the second period after two nice slams by Arvydas Straupis and Biedrins plus a pair of points by Dametri Hill, and they extended their lead to 37-24.
But Kyiv found an answer. Center duo Steven Goodrich and Stanislav Balashov both had 3-point plays and the guests caught up, reducing Skonto's lead to 4 points at the half, 41-37
In the second half Biedrins took over and Skonto went on another run. After an impressive slam dunk by the center, Riga again led by ten. And the fourth best scorer of the FEL kept on going, closing the quarter with a basket that saw his side take a 66-52 into the final quarter.
But the Ukranians were not out of it yet. 5 Quick points came from Sergiy Przheorskyy with a three and Balashov a 2 stunned Skonto, who were suddenly rattled and forced to take a timeout.
But afterwards his team still was nervous. Hill scored for Kyiv and the guests were only three points down (68-65). But Biedrins stepped up again with a jumper and another terrific dunk.
With 5 minutes to go Skonto was up 72-67. The game got more and more frenzied but both teams lacked poise. After several uneffective attacks Przheorskyy scored for the guests
It was, however, a classic case of too little too late for Kyiv. Skonto held their nerves at the free throw line and closed out the contest, 81-75, their 3rd win in this year's competition.
Renato Pascuali, Head Coach, BC Kyiv:
"The game was not that bad. We did not suceed to be in the lead because the team could not overcome some 2 and 3 points margins."
Gundis Endzels, Head Coach, Skonto Riga:
"I am glad we won. Both teams had good episodes but our tactics turned out to be better. Kyiv was close but could not lead the game. Only 5 players of our team played today – the others had problems with health. I would like to name Biedrins, Hill and Kelly – they were the best today."