Not just a one-man band: Gavin Ware comes up big, Dijon hold off Riga’s late run

DIJON (France) – JDA Dijon and VEF Riga were trading blows all game long. Home crowd left the arena feeling happy because Gavin Ware decided he wasn’t going to allow the Latvian champs to steal home court advantage. JDA Dijon won the game 84-77, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Play-In series.

The game saw 11 lead changes, Dijon were in front for 19:38 of the game, just six seconds more than VEF Riga spent with the lead in their hands. The visitors led by 11, the hosts by 10 in this closely contested game.

Turning point: It should’ve been a much easier for Dijon. Nenad Markovic’s men opened up a 78-69 lead with 2:30 left in the game, but VEF Riga crawled all the way back to 78-77 and even forced a missed three-pointer from David Holston.

However, Gavin Ware was there to clean up the mess, grabbing the offensive board, getting to the line, pushing the gap to 80-77. It was more of the same on the next possession, another Holston miss, another Ware rebound, layup plus a foul to make it a two-possession lead.

All hopes of a comeback for Riga were blown away by all the wind from Rashard Kelly’s windmill dunk to set the final score.

Game heroes: David Holston was on fire in the first half, getting 17 of his 19 points before the break, knocking down five three-pointers and single-handedly erasing a double digit deficit in the second quarter.

After the break, it was time for Khadeen Carrington to do his part, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals. Rashard Kelly dunked his way to 13 points, but it was Ware who was the most impressive with 18 points and 10 rebounds, six of them being offensive. It was Ware’s first double-double in 21 BCL games.

Stats don’t lie: Live by the three, die by the three took another meaning on Tuesday night. VEF Riga knocked down 14 three-pointers, but fell in love with shooting them so much, that they attempted 33 three-pointers and just 22 two-pointers – the lowest tally in a BCL game in Season Six.

When you add their 9-of-17 shooting from the free throw line, it’s easy to see how they could not hold it together until the finish line.

Bottom line: Dijon did their part, protecting home court, getting one step closer to the Round of 16. VEF Riga played another close game, all five of their defeats in BCL this season were by single digits, but they will now need back-to-back wins over Dijon to reach Group I, where MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and Galatasaray Nef await. The third rival will come from the Holon v Besiktas matchup.

They said:

“We started the game well, but then lost our values, our vision, our direction. We became too much offensively oriented. In the end, we didn’t make the right decision, we didn’t make the extra effort, and that’s the game of basketball. A lot of our players have space to step up. We are not done. We are not done, for sure.” – VEF Riga head coach Janis Gailitis

“It was a tough game. It was looking a little bit shaky for us, but we just started focusing on toughness. Because they weren’t letting us get into our stuff in the first and second quarter, so we had to rely on toughness. We had only two days to prepare, but we’ll get back to practice, work on our stuff, become stronger and tougher and we’ll be okay.” – Gavin Ware, JDA Dijon