|BK Ventspils forward Arturs Berzins led all scorers with 16 points|
BK Ventspils rolled to victory in the opening game of their EuroChallenge Quarter-Final Round against Szolnoki Olaj in Latvia on Tuesday night.
Gundars Vetra's team, having overcome an 0-2 start in the Last 16 to set up the clash with the Hungarians, broke open a close game in the second quarter and pulled away for an 82-63 triumph.
The Latvian outfit were knotted at 15-15 early in the second quarter when they took command.
Steven Gray and Mamadi Diane buried jump shots and Arturs Berzins drilled a three-ball for a seven-point advantage.
Marton Bader dunked for Szolnoki, but then Gray hit shots from the arc on consecutive trips down the floor to extend the lead to 28-17.
Szolnoki, who got nine first-half points from Julien Mills, cut the gap to 38-31 but Gray finished his and Ventspils' terrific second quarter with another jumper for a 40-31 lead.
Gray had 10 points at half-time.
An Akos Horvath lay-up got Szolnoki to within six early in the third quarter but Berzins connected from long range and Todd Abernethy followed with a jumper to stretch the advantage back to 11.
Ventspils outscored Szolnoki 18-14 in the frame for a 58-45 lead.
Vetra's side went further ahead over the last 10 minutes for a decisive 19-point triumph.
Berzins finished with 16 points and both Gray and Jahmar Young had 14.
Power forward Ronalds Zakis chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds and Abernethy added 11 points.
Ventspils out-rebounded Szolnoki, 41-29.
Szolnoki will host Game 2 on Thursday.
Szolnoki Olaj Head Coach Peter Por
"Both teams acted nervous at the beginning, but we were even. We did not find easy shots, but Grey scored many crucial shots and it changed a lot for us. Ventspils defeated us with their defence. I do not plan many changes for the next game, however we are determined to win."
Ventspils Head Coach Gundars Vetra
"The main thing is to win. Of course we can still improve many things and we will work on it when preparing for the next game. At the beginning we played nervously, because many players are young and do not have play-off experience. During the game we found our feeling and it led to a win. I think we managed to control the game."
Szolnoki Olaj player Marton Bader
"Ventspils had the home court advantage. The first game is always important and we tried to do everything, however maybe we did not have enough concentration. Ventspils deserved to win, but in two days we will have the chance to play in our court and we will not give up."
Ventspils player Steven Gray
"They missed many shots, however I have heard that they are very good in home games. This means that we have to prepare better on defence and play even better than today."