Russian visitors CSK-VVS Samara will travel home with two very important points in the EuroCup Challenge after a hard fought 88-86 win against winless Icelandic club Njardvik over the weekend.
Njardvik’s Brenton Birmingham was an offensive juggernaut, alternatively cutting through the Russian defense for lay-ins or swishing long-range bombs on his way to a game-high 33 points.
Unfortunately for the Icelandic club it was not enough against a well balanced Russian side led by ultra-quick US guard Omar Cook who had 18 points and made 4/7 three pointers with 8 assists while playing all 40 minutes.
Two of the 18 were game winning free throws with three seconds remaining in the game.
Russian coach Valerty Tikhonenko said that said that his players knew that the team had to win this game and that the Icelandic team would play hard.
“My team played very good defense in the fourth quarter and managed to break away in the last minutes. Balanced scoring and good effort from every player was the key to victory along with Omar Cook’s 40 minutes of solid play," he said.
Cook said that he knew going in that the less talented Icelandic club would give an tremendous effort and that the situation in the group added pressure to an already difficult game.
“My third foul playing defense against Birmingham limited my defense so I had to concentrate more on running the offense and the way Njardvik’s defense collapsed when I drove to the basket allowed me to distribute the ball to my teammates in good scoring positions. We are still getting to know each other as it is still early in our first season together.”
Njardvik coach Einar A. Johannsson said the result was very disappointing.
“I thought we played a very good basketball game tonight and this loss is a bitter pill to swallow!"
“This was a tough game against a good side," added Birmingham.
"We lost by 20 points against them in Russia but we felt the teams very more evenly matched than that result showed.
"We felt and still feel that we can beat this team but this game came down to the last play and the ball didn´t roll in our favour this time. Now we only have two away games left in the EuroCup Challenge, in the Ukraine and in Estonia and we have to build on this game.”