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Ukraine: Mariupol Still The Team To Beat

16 November 2004
Alexei Naumov and Maxim Sergeev

Ukrainian champs Azovmash Mariupol overcame a determined challenge from Budivelnik Kiev to maintain their unbeaten record and position at the top of the Superleague standings.

Budivelnik, who have struggled this year, are a familiar foe for Mariupol. Last season they ended Mariupol’s unbeaten league record and in Kiev this weekend, the champions very nearly made the mistake of underestimating their opponents once again.

Serhiy Lischuk (Khimik - right) had 29 points against Sumykhimprom
It was Petro Podtykan’s free throw with less than a second on the clock which saw Mariupol escape Kiev with a 1-point victory, 89-90.

Budivelnik led for most of the game and at the midway stage their advantage reached 19-points. But Azovmash woke up in the 4th quarter and gradually began to chip away at the lead.

Azovmash nearly let the game slip away, when coach Andrei Podkovyrov received a technical foul which sparked a 6-0 run for Budivelnik. But Budivelnik gradually lost their key players to foul trouble and Azovmash finally came back with literally no time to spare.

Podtykan rushed a game winning shot attempt with just 0.4 seconds remaining, but a foul was called. He needed to make just 1 of 2, and that’s what he did, to grant Mariupol the tightest of victories.

In other Superleague action, Politechnik Harkiv celebrated their first win of the season, which they clinched in the final seconds of the match-up against Krivbassbasket – 89:87.

One of the league’s leaders Khimik Yuzhny had a difficult game against Sumykhimprom. Khimik was trailing most of the game, but star center Serhiy Lishchuk came to the rescue and his 29 points and 16 rebounds allowed the team from Yuzhny to stay on top – 81:73.

Former MBC Odessa coach Valentin Voronin, who is now coaching VOZKO had a tough game against his former team. Oleg Fokin’s (VOZKO) 21 points, 4 assists and 2 steals helped his team to beat Odessa 79:71.

One more exciting game took place in Dnipropetrovsk between Dnipro and Nikolaev. The visiting team stole a necessary win 68-69. It seems like the final league standings for these two teams will be determined by their head-to-head games.

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