Honka Playboys suffered their second consecutive defeat in the FIBA Europe League tonight, this time away to Skonto.
In their opening game, the Finnish Champions went down to last year’s Champions Cup winners Aris Thessaloniki in a close encounter. Tonight was no different as Skonto carved out a 96:87 victory, mainly thanks to superior free throw shooting down the stretch.
There was little to separate the two teams in the first half and they matched each other almost basket for basket. At the break, Honka held a 1-point advantage 52:51.
Skonto made a mini-break in the 3rd quarter behind the offensive play of center Andris Biedrins and Dametri Hill who sparked the home side to a 6-0 run.
Honka, however, had an answer and the third quarter finished once again with a 1-point lead for the Finns, 73:72.
Skonto finally took the lead for good with 1.40 on the game clock and solid free-throw shooting down the stretch (Darren Kelly 3/4 free throws) saw them take the victory.
Top player for the home team and game MVP was Skonto center Andris Biedrins. At jus 17 years of age he is taking the FIBA Europe League by storm. In his first game he scored 19 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Tonight he exploded for 34 points on 14/18 shooting along with 8 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Americans Darren Kelly and Dametri Hill also put on an offensive show, scoring 28 and 24 points respectively.
Top performer for Honka was Steve Woodberry who finished the game with 24 points.
Game MVP: Andris Biedrins
Mihailo Pavicevic, Head Coach of Honka Playboys:
“Skonto is a really strong team and they’re actually playing at the same level like we do. At the end of this round it will be either us or them to make it to the next level. Today, we didn’t play defense at all and plus our point guard lost the control of the game. These were the main reasons for our defeat.”
Shawn Huff, Honka Playboys:
“We didn’t play as well as expected from us. Though we do know well how to play Skonto, we didn’t use it an lost the game.”
Guntis Endzels, Head Coach of Skonto:
“We were ready for them and did a good job under the baskets. Biedrins and Hill played extremely well. In the first half we didn’t use our strengths, but in the second half I was very pleased with our game.“
Andris Biedrins, Skonto:
“I knew that I would play an important role in this game and that’s why I did my best.”