VEF Riga Are Kings Of Latvia Again

22 May 2012

VEF Riga - Latvian champions 2012
VEF Riga prevailed over BK Ventspils in the best-of-seven final series to retain the Latvian title

VEF Riga are the champions of Latvia for the second year in a row after beating BK Ventspils in the play-off finals.

Ramunas Butautas, the former coach of Lithuania's national side, steered the team to a second-place finish in the regular season.

That was good enough to seal a place in the semi-finals and once there, they shifted into top gear and swept Latvijas Universitate in three games before taking apart a Ventspils side that came within one victory of a spot in the EuroChallenge Final Four.

Butautas has endured some good times and bad times in recent years in the high-pressured profession of coaching.

He fell on his own sword as the coach of Lithuania after EuroBasket 2009, when the Baltic side fell short of the last eight.

But now, he is experiencing a lot of positive emotions and is likely to find himself in charge of VEF Rigan ext season.

"The heart is now filled with the most beautiful feelings," he said after the 100-70 Game 5 triumph in which Gatis Jahovics led a balanced scoring attack with 18 points.

VEF Riga gave themselves a perfect launch pad for the title series victory with an 83-66 victory in Game 1 in which Donatas Zavackas had 15 points.

Kristaps Janicenoks poured in 19 points in an 85-67 Game 2 triumph.

Another Latvia international, Kaspars Berzins, was also solid scoring 10 points and pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds.

In Game 3, Ventspils showed signs of life and forced overtime but VEF Riga prevailed 107-102 after a 24-point effort from Janicenoks and 23 from Curtis Millage.

Ventspils stayed alive with a 97-90 victory in Game 4 with Jahmar Young, one of the team's leading players in the EuroChallenge, scoring a game-high 26 points.

Mamadi Diane also had 21 in that victory.

But VEF Riga celebrated the title after the resounding triumph in Game 5.

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