Ural Great, unbeaten at home this year’s FIBA Europe League, tasted defeat for the first time tonight to visitors Hapoel Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv’s 2nd half defensive effort put the clamps on Ural Great and no doubt dampened Coach Sergei Belov’s 60th birthday celebrations.
The tone of the game was set early when it was clear there would be no easy win for either side. The first quarter finished 25:23 and the score remained close in the second 10 minutes.
Tel Aviv got 14 points from center Michael Wright, but thanks to the offensive contributions of Sergei Chikalkin and Valeri Daineko, Ural Great took a 49:43 lead into the halftime break.
Ural Great had been averaging 88.8 ppg up until this game, 3rd in the FIBA Europe League. But after halftime, Hapoel showed that they can be stopped and held the home team to just 27 second half points.
Defensive intensity came from all over the court, and the offense came from the inside where Virginijus Praskevicius, Yaniv Green and Michael Wright asserted themselves. The scores were quickly leveled and Hapoel led by up to 14 points in the 4th quarter.
A flurry of points from Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Ivo Josipovic brought the score back to respectability in the last minutes, but the game was already lost.
Wirght finished as the game’s top scorer with 23 points. Praskevicius added 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
Abdul-Rauf was Ural Great’s top points contributor with 18.
MVP of the game - Virginius Praskevicius.
Sergei Belov, Head Coach, Ural Great Perm:
"The first and most important reason Hapoel won today is, that they wanted to win and they did everything to do that. They played very aggressive defense and our team could not find anything against that. It is a good lesson for my players."
Valeri Daineko, Ural Great Perm:
"We made too many mistakes and missed an incredible number of shots. Hapoel is a very organized team, after they started leading the score they froze the difference and never let us come closer. They came out to this game having more motivation and the will to win. They needed this victory and they got it."
Erez Edelshtain, Head Coach, Hapoel Samsung Tel Aviv:
"We are very happy to come to Perm and play on the day when you honour the 60th anniversary of Sergei Belov. We knew it would be a very tough game against a really good team. The second half was decisive for us. We played good defense and did not allow Ural Great to score many points on us."
Michael Wright, Hapoel Samsung Tel Aviv:
"It is a very important win for us. We came here after a hurtful loss at the national championships. So what we really needed most was to focus and play our game - and we managed to do it."