Tonight in Group B of the FIBA Europe league, Ural Great were desperately seeking a victory over Azovmash in order to remain in contention for the playoffs.
Having started the season with 4 straight losses, it has taken the Russian side a while to find their feet, and for a long time, play-off hopes were limited at best. But an overtime victory over Ukrainian champions Azovmash Mariupol lifts Ural Great back into play-off range.
Ural Great were boosted before the game with the news that center Sam Hoskin would be fit to start the game. But it was Ural Great's European stars who would have the biggest impact on the game.
|Mariupol's Lior Lubin|
Slovenia international Jurica Golemac and Israel national team forward Sharon Shason combined for 50 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists. Golemac, in particular has been a key factor in Ural Great's current 3-game FIBA Europe League winning streak, averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and 4.6 assists in the victories.
Mariupol, however, were not intimidated by the peformance of Ural Great's international influence. After a close opening half, the visitors' zone defense proved problematic for Ural Great in the 3rd quarter and Mariupol was able to build a 9-point lead by the end of the period.
A pair of three-pointers from Lior Lubin and Arnas Kazlauskas midway through the 4th quarter extended Mariupol's lead to an ominous 12-points, and victory seemed close at hand.
But Ural Great clawed their way back and a three-pointer from Shason gave them the lead with under a minute remaining.
Needing only one defensive stop in order to capture the win, suddenly Ural Great seemed assured of victory. But Shason's Israel team-mate Lubin hit a do-or-die three-pointer at the death to send the game into overtime.
The five-minute overtime period started out in a 79-79 deadlock.
Once again Mariupol built a small 4-point lead, but Ural Great was again up to the task. Baskets from Golemac and Egor Vyaltsev saw the lead see-saw back in favour of the home side and Mariupol came up short with the last possession of the game.