Gala Baku, the only representative from Azerbaijan in the FIBA Europe Cup Men, took the first step towards the Conference Final Four, with a win in the opening match of their 3-game play-off series against Valmiera from Latvia.
Baku got sensational performances from Robert Burries (36 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds), Darius Lukminas (32 points) and Tomas Cerkunovas (16 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks in his European club competition debut).
Both teams opened the contest on an even keel, but Valmiera took the initiative towards the end of the 1st quarter with an 11:0 run, and led 23:19 at the end of the period.
The Latvians continued their good play into the second 10 minutes, outscoring Baku 8:0. However, as soon as it looked like they had control of the game, Baku completely turned the tables. Burries and Lukminas sparked their side from the outside and they outscored Valmiera 17:2.
Although the momentum was in favour of the visitors, Valmiera did not capitulate and got back into the game at 52:54. But it was not to be for the Latvians as Baku remained red hot from behind the arc (they hit 10/21 three-pointers) and held on for a 81:93 road victory.