In the battle of two national champions, VEF Riga suffered a tough defeat at home to Falco Szombathely, splitting Group D in half after just a couple of Gamedays. Meanwhile, Unicaja defeated Lavrio Megabolt to stay unbeaten.
The Latvian champions were looking for a bounce-back win at home against the Hungarian champions, but the atmosphere felt like the game was in Szombathely. A group of traveling fans in black-and-yellow made a lot of noise inside the Arena Riga, pointing Falco Szombathely towards a massive win.
Everything before the break was part of a low-scoring affair. Coaches Janis Gailitis and Milos Konakov had a lot to say to their players in the locker room, and the men on the floor adjusted to new circumstances, with Falco winning the stanza 29-24.
VEF stayed in front, thanks to their high-energy plays led by Ron Curry. The soaring guard came off the bench to detonate three impressive dunks, swinging the momentum back to the black-and-white side of the swing.
Riga owned a 66-64 lead early in the fourth, when the visitors went on a game-winning 7-0 run, with Boris Barac getting five of those seven points. Even when VEF Riga got to 70-71 from their point of view, Hereda San Pablo Burgos loanee Adam Somogyi knocked in a triple from the left corner to put two possessions between the teams.
Falco Szombathely managed to stay in front the rest of the way, forcing turnovers and hitting free throws over the final minute to win it 80-74.
Zoltan Perl is reaffirming his role as the best sixth man of the League, getting a team-high 16 points and six assists to his name. Barac also came off the bench for 15 points, Szilard Benke and Marvin Clark scored 12 each, and Gyorgy Goloman got into double digits with two twos and two threes on the day.
Kristers Zoriks scored 21 for VEF Riga, Curry had 13, but the champions of Latvia are down at 0-2, the same record as AEK in this group. Falco Szombathely shares the top of the group with Nutribullet Treviso. Both teams are still perfect at 2-0.
Smooth sailing for Unicaja
With Lavrio Megabolt in town, the first-ever Basketball Champions League game was played in the Jose Maria Martin Carpena Arena in Malaga. Unicaja allowed no alarms and no surprises en route to an 86-70 win.
The second quarter created the difference and allowed Unicaja to grab a double-digit lead at the break. Afterwards, it was all about managing the lead, which coach Fotis Katsikaris knows a lot about, getting to 2-0 on cruise control.
Dario Brizuela was the top scorer for Unicaja with 16 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Tim Abromaitis, the champion from 2017, scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and Axel Bouteille was the last man in double figures with 13 points. Three other men scored 9 points, giving Unicaja some much-needed depth.
Tyson Carter scored 21 for the Greek squad, but they dropped to 1-1 after a win over JDA Dijon and a defeat to Unicaja.