Ural Great picked up the win in the first match-up of their quarter-final series against Nahariya, but it was a tough game that went down to the wire.
Despite leading for the entire contest, it was only in the last 20 seconds that Ural Great could confirm the win, and all indications are that this series could well go to a third game.
Ruslan Avleev and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf got Ural Great off to a good start and they led 12:6 by the 3rd minute of the opening quarter. The home team increased the advantage to 12 points by the midway point, before Sharon Shason entered the game for Nahariya. He scored 7 points and Nahariya trailed 28:21 at the end of the period.
Ural Great continued to try and build on their lead throughout the next 20 minutes, but Nahariya always stayed close enough to be dangerous. At the start of the final quarter the score was 76:70, giving Ural Great a small cushion.
The last minutes proved to be decisive and when Ksistof Lavrinovic and Ruslan Avleev fouled out, Nahariya seized their chance. With just 20 seconds to go the score was 92:91 but it was at this point that Shason also fouled out.
Nahariya were forced to foul in order to stop the clock and some calm nerves from Sergey Chikalkin and Darren Fenn ensured that all clutch free throws were made and the victory secured.
Abdul-Rauf was doubtful before the game due to a foot injury. He managed to suit up and delivered 20 points. Avleev was MVP after scoring 21 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. Zakhar Pashutin finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists.
Shason and Peleg top scored for Nahariya with 25 points apiece.
Sergei Belov, Head coach Ural Great Perm:
"I am satisfied we won today. In a series like this winning the first game is vital. In the play-offs you cannot allow yourself a mistake since the importance of each game increases. Anyway I would like to give honours to Ironi Iscar is a very good team and they have a very good potential."
Ruslan Avleev, Ural Great Perm:
"At the beginning we took the initiative and lead the score. However soon we lost our point advantage and Ironi Iscar grabbed the opportunity we gave them and the punishment came immediately. At this stage of the competition you never meet easy rivals and are not allowed to make mistakes. We showed our team spirit today which helped us win this difficult game."
Avi Ashkenazi, Head Coach Strauss Iscar Nahariya:
"It was a very tough game and I think everybody enjoyed it. I think we had a chance to win but we didn't play our best especially in defense. Ural Great is a good opponent and I hope to come back to Perm next week."
Barak Peleg, Strauss Iscar Nahariya:
"First of all I would like to congratulate our opponent. I am really proud of my teammates. Offensively we played very well but unfortunately could not do the same in defense. I am sure in Israel we will play differently and the series will come back to Perm."