|Toni Bizaca contributed 12 points for Sodertalje, including some clutch plays down the stretch|
Sodertalje Kings have prevailed 83-80 in a topsy-turvy encounter to keep their own EuroChallenge campaign alive, whilst forcing Group C opponents BK Ventspils to wait another week before they can confirm a spot in the Last 16.
For the second week in a row, Ventspils entered the game knowing that victory would assure them a spot in the next round come January. But against a team with arguably more to play for, the Latvian club left their fans with another nervous week ahead.
The game underwent 14 lead changes and eight tied scores, with neither team able to shake the other.
Ventspils' biggest break came early in the second frame but a pin-point accurate Assane Sene at the charity stripe dragged the hosts back within three, 39-36 at the major interval.
Following the change of ends Tobias Borg was getting the initiative back with the hosts, striking from inside and outside the paint to pick up seven points in the frame but Ventspils remained in front by three, 59-56.
The 20-year-old Borg went on to finish with 20 points.
Toni Bizaca finally handed the lead to Sodertalje for good with 04:51 to play, despite the best efforts of Janis Timma who picked up seven final-quarter points.
Timma had a team-high 20 points, alongside nine boards.
Having got his team the lead, Bizaca then sealed the game with four late points from the free-throw line, the last two with six seconds to play meaning that when Ronalds Zakis converted from inside the paint on the buzzer, he was simply going through the motions.
Bizaca complemented the 20 points from Borg with 12 of his own whilst John Roberson put 18 points and 8 assists to his name.
BK Ventspils Player Janis Timma
"Two things decided the game today. One was that our opponents made the important shots in the last quarter, in which they scored 27 points. The second thing was our poor free throw shooting, only 7-from-15 while the made all of their 14."
BK Ventspils Head Coach Robert Stehlmahers
"We wanted to win this game, but our bad free throw shooting and that we missed so many three pointers; 29% and one player actually on 0/7, hurt us badly. The Kings really used their strengths today, with a lot of penetration and kick-outs for three pointers."
Södertälje Kings Player Tobias Borg
"It was a tough and even game. The lead changed many times, but we got off to a good start and managed to pull it off in the end. We did a good job in rebounding, which has been very weak for us in the EuroChallenge games."
Södertälje Kings Head Coach Vedran Bosnic
"It was one of the biggest wins for our team during my time in the club. We knew that we could play with them, but to beat Ventspils, a great club with traditions, and give us the chance to advance in the tournament, was huge. An important factor was Tobias Borgs' performance. We knew that Ventspils would focus on Bizaca and Roberson, but Borg kept us in the game with his scoring, especially in the first half."