Romanian side Poli Mobitelco Cluj won its first international game on Wednesday night, 78-74 against Ironi Elitzur Ashkelon, from Israel, in Group E of the EuroCup Challenge.
It is the first win for a team from Cluj- Napoca in 12 years. In 1993, Universitatea Cluj beat French side Pau Orthez in the Korac Cup.
The away side had a very strong start in Wednesday night's encounter. Ironi Elitzur Ashkelon led 10-2 after 6 minutes and had an 11-point advantage (18-7) one minute later.
Poli Mobitelco coach Miodrag Perisic realised that Adrian Pledger was the main danger for his team and brought in LeVar Seals, whose main challenge was to guard Pledger. He rose up to the expectations and Ashkelon's guard started having difficulties.
With Seals, Tudor Dumitrescu and Zoran Krstanovic in good form, Poli Mobitelco started to catch up on their opponents and after 18 minutes of play, they levelled the scores (31-31).
The end of the second quarter belonged to the home side, who finished the first half with a one point advantage (36-35).
The star of the first 20 minutes was undoubtedly Cluj center Zoran Krstanovic, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds at halftime. Ironi Elitzur Ashkelon coach Ariel Bet-Halahmy decided to pay more attention to Krstanovic and the Serb player scored only 5 points and recorded 2 rebounds in the second half of the game.
After the break, the game continued to be very close, neither of the two teams being able to pull away. After a Dumitrescu three-pointer, Poli Mobitelco managed to get a six-point advantage, but the away side came back quickly, thanks to two three-point field goals scored by Yehu-David Orland, one of them coming from half-court in the last second of the third quarter.
The game had a dramatic finish, with the 2.500 spectators pushing their favourites to the win.
One and a half minutes from the end, Poli Mobitelco had a five-point advantage (76-71), when Israel international Moshe Mizrahi scored a three-pointer and kept the hopes alive for Ironi Elitzur. But veteran center Bruno Roschanfsky (age 36), who played in Cluj's last victory in an international game 12 years ago, stayed calm and scored two crucial free-throws, 17 seconds before the end, to bring the win to Poli Mobitelco Cluj.