The Rest of the World came to Europe and conquered at the FEL All-Star Day as the competition’s best foreign players teamed up to defeat their European counterparts, 84:91 in Kiev at the sold-out Sports Palace.
No expense was spared in the show which was enjoyed by luminaries such as Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and former Olympic Champion Sergey Bubka.
Technicians worked around the clock to set up the arena and stage as well as all the extra seating that was built for the VIP guests and attending media. An events director from Russia was flown in to co-ordinate all the game entertainment which included music stars Boney M, Meladze, the Jazzy Project, Viagra and Nevergreen while Ukrainian star Taisiya Povaliy was on hand to perform the national anthem.
After a strong first quarter, it seemed that Europe might have run away with the game, but MVP Michael Wright led a comeback charge that saw the Rest of the World edge the contest in the last minute.
It was all Europe in the opening period as 3-point shootout winner Sergey Chikalkin and Eurelijus Zukauskas led the charge. Chikalkin lost none of his touch in the 20-minute break between the shootout and the game as he hit 10 first half points (4/5 field goals). Zukauskas was even more effective as he made all 6 of his field goal attempts for 14 first half points.
|Game MVP Michael Wright (left) and Yaniv Green|
It was some showtime play from the Rest of the World that saw them take the lead for the first time. A 6:0 run began with a jump shot from Roderick Blakney and was followed by a monstrous 2-hand alley-oop dunk from Eric Campbell. Johnson followed that with a dunk in traffic and the foreigners suddenly led 40:45, which was the score at halftime.
Europe mounted a rally in the third period and a 3-pointer from Dmitri Domani saw them regain the advantage at 52:50. It was a lead that would change hands constantly over the remaining minutes in the period. Michael Wright was once again at the forefront as he hit eight 3rd quarter points, but a dunk from Saulius Stombergas gave Europe the lead, 61:60 going into the final 10 minutes.
Chikalkin began the 4th quarter with a 3-pointer but a Blakney 3-pointer sparked a 7:0 run for the Rest of the World and they took a 65:71 lead. Laurent Sciarra replied with a three, but 5-points in a row from Blakney (he had 8 in the 4th quarter) gave his side a 7-point cushion and a lead that they would not relinquish.
A Stombergas 3-pointer with 90 seconds remaining gave Europe hope as they got to within 3-points, 80:83. But Ashante Jonshon hit back with a 3-pointer of his own to again make the gap 6-points and the Rest of the World hung on for the victory.
Wright finished with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds and a deserved MVP award. Ashante Johnson added 16 points and 6 boards, while Blakney had 10 and 5 assists.
Chikalkin was the high scorer for Europe with 17 points and he also dished 4 assists, while Zukauskas finished with 16 points and Stombergas had 14.