Azovmash Push Dynamo St Petersburg To Limit


Dynamo St Petersburg won all 20 games on their way to the FIBA Europe League crown in the 2004-05 campaign.

The Russians on Tuesday picked up right where they left off by turning back a gritty Azovmash, 77-72 in the Group A EuroCup opener for both sides.

Now under the guidance of coach Fotis Katsikaris, St Petersburg got superlative efforts from star duo Kelly McCarty and Ognjen Askrabic, and a spark from new point guard Jerry McCullough.

McCarty, the most valuable player of last season's triumphant Final Four in Istanbul, poured in a game-high 19 points while McCullough, the replacement for Ed Cota, had 13 points and 11 assists.

Serbo-Montenegrin center Askrabic weighed in with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Dynamo beat BC Kyiv in the title game of the FIBA Europe League. They faced another Ukrainian heavyweight this time, and Azovmash of Mariupol pushed them to the limit.

Khalid El-Amin's three-pointer with 17 seconds to play trimmed Dynamo's advantage to 75-72, but Azovmash, unable to get the steal, fouled former Armani Jeans Milano playmaker McCullough and he buried both free throws for a five-point advantage.

Azovmash center Art Long was then called for an offensive foul, turning the ball back over to Dynamo who held on for the victory.

The visitors showed great resilience in the first half.

After falling behind 37-29 on Dynamo big man Darryl Middleton's jump shot with just under four minutes to play in the second quarter, Azovmash went on a 12-0 run.

Israeli international Lior Lubin buried a three-pointer to start the surge and El-Amin's basket capped it, giving Azovmash a 39-37 advantage at half-time.

El-Amin, one of the top signings for Azovmash in the summer after a sensational campaign at Besiktas, hit a shot from the arc three minutes into the second half to give his side a 47-44 edge, but another Middleton jump shot midway through the quarter followed by an Askrabic dunk off a feed from McCarty gave Dynamo a one-point lead and swung the momentum their way.

A McCarty dunk with 7:09 left in the contest gave Dynamo their biggest lead at 66-55, but Azovmash were not done.

Trailing 73-64 with 3:28 to play, Azovmash outscored Dynamo 8-2 over the next 3:11 and trailed by three with 17 seconds to go.

McCullough's free-throw shooting helped the hosts claim the victory.

El-Amin, a former star with the University of Connecticut who spent time in the NBA but last season played in Turkey, had 18 points to pace Azovmash. Ukrainian center Serhiy Lishchuk contributed 17 and Long added 16 with 13 rebounds.

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