Leiden Rise From Dead, Stun Ventspils

17 January 2012

Call ZZ Leiden amazing, and resilient.

Any superlative will do right now because the Dutch club pulled off an incredible comeback at BK Ventspils in the EuroChallenge Last 16 on Tuesday, prevailing 73-69.

The Dutch team, trailing 45-22 early in the second half, refused to give in and shocked the Latvians in the Group I game.

Ventspils also collapsed in a Baltic League game against Rudupis at the end of October when they were outscored 30-5 in the fourth quarter and fell, 78-77.

The Latvians led virtually the entire way on Tuesday until 1:45 remained.

That's when Leiden guard Sean Cunningham caught a pass from Seamus Boxley, who led his team with 20 points, and buried a three-ball for a 66-65 advantage.

Mamadi Diane went to the other end and put Ventspils back in front with a jump shot, only for Dutch international Arvin Slagter to reply with a jumper for Leiden with 1:03 remaining to make it 68-67 in favor of the visitors.

Diane then had his pass intercepted by Leiden's Thomas Jackson and Todd Abernethy was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul on Jackson.

The 1.75m guard went to the line and made both free-throws and Toon van Helfteren's team maintained possession.

Boxley was off target with a jumper but Mohamed Kherrazi was there for the offensive rebound, yet his follow-up shot stayed out.

Ventspils still didn't get their hands on the ball, though, with Jackson grabbing Kherrazi's miss.

He passed to Slagter, who was fouled in the act of shooting by Diane, and the Dutchman made both free-throws to push the advantage to 72-67.

Gundars Vetra, the Ventspils coach, called timeout in a bid to rescue his team but it was too late.

When play resumed, Martins Laksa missed from long range and Jackson got the rebound.

Leiden, who won Game 7 in the Dutch play-off finals last season in triple overtime against GasTerra, 96-95, ended up winning by four to stay firmly in the hunt for a spot in the Quarter-Finals.

Ventspils are now 0-2 and needing a quick turnaround to stay alive in the EuroChallenge.


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