By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Gavin Ware posted his first Basketball Champions League double-double starring for JDA Dijon in the 84-77 victory over VEF Riga Tuesday evening.
Ware, 28, scoring four points in the final minute pushed the winning side to a five-point lead with 20 seconds remaining in breathtaking Game 1 of the best-of-three Play-In Series. The Mississippi State product dropped 18 points behind 8/12 two-pointers and grabbed ten rebounds.
Dijon leader and former Chicago State standout David Holston poured 19 points despite playing nearly the entire second half with three fouls to his name. Experienced power forward Abdoulaye Loum was out after testing positive for COVID-19. Joshiko Saibou remained on the injury list of the team coached by Nenad Markovic.
The team led by Janis Gailitis squandered an early 11-point lead but almost dug its way out of a ten-point hole down the stretch. Launching an 11-2 run cut the deficit to one point but Ware sealed the deal with a couple of free throws followed by a clutch bucket.
The hosts went up, 1-0, in the series sending the prevailing side to Round of 16 Group I alongside MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, Galatasaray Nef, and one more team coming out of the Play-Ins.
As Rayshaun Hammonds and Alexander Madsen remained sidelined, the Latvia champions were forced to an extremely short rotation at Palais des Sports Jean-Michel Geoffroy. Apart from the limited options, Anrijs Miska picked up his fourth foul early in the second half.
Artis Ate was the top performer packing 19 points in the visit to France. Maris Gulbis followed with 15 points.
VEF Riga has lost its last eight away games in the BCL and 15 out of 17 overall. Snapping the losing streak will be necessary as a potential win in Game 2 at home will shift the series back to Dijon for the deciding matchup.
Postgame press conference:
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League