In FIBA Europe League action this evening, Group A leader BC Kyiv won easily 94-71 against the visitors of CSKA Sofia.
BC Kyiv started the game strong with a 8-0 run, built off of superb defense and top-notch shooting. However, Christopher Garnett’s aerial play and dominance in the key for CSKA Sofia turned things around, and the visitors had a six-point lead at the end of the first quarter (21-27).
In the second quarter Coach Renato Pasquali experimented with his defensive sets and Kyiv started to inch their way back. In the middle of the second quarter the visitors suffered two unfortunate injuries. Key players, Dimitar Angelov and Christopher Garnett, both went down with similar ankle injuries and had to leave the game.
Despite the two injuries, CSKA Sofia started the third quarter with a three-point lead (37-40). However BC Kyiv came out of the locker room charged up, and went on a run which the visitors were never able to recover from.
Garnett returned to action temporarily for Sofia, but due to the pain was unable to keep up with his first half's performance. One could see that with limited number of healthy substitutes, CSKA’s players were getting fatigued and it was difficult for them to stop BC Kyiv’s fast breaks.
Renato Pasquali had many more options on his bench and used this to his advantage. Reserve guard, Andrii Lebediev, had his best game of the season scoring a game-high 21 points. He was a major contributor in BC Kyiv’s 14-5 run at the end of the 3rd quarter which gave the home team a comfortable lead.
The fourth quarter of play proved to be too much for the Bulgarian visitors. They managed to hold Kyiv’s lead to 15 points for the first half of the quarter, however due to a complete lack of energy BC Kyiv won convincingly 94-71.
“We started the game still thinking about last weekend’s loss to Khimik Yuzhniy. Back than we had a slow start, so this time we needed a change.
We needed this win for the players’ emotional recovery – they have to believe we are a good team prior to a very important game against Azovmash Mariupol.
Trailing at halftime I encouraged my players to show more intensity and start playing better defense. This worked and allowed us to get rebounds and initiate a number of successful fast breaks.
I am very pleased with the fact that we’ve finished Round 1 of the FIBA Europe League at the top of Group A. I think that our group is the strongest in the competition, that’s why the top seed doesn’t mean we can afford to relax. We’ll face a lot of difficult match-ups in the second round and there is no guarantee we’ll finish the group stage at the top.”
Andrii Lebediev, Guard for BC Kyiv
“I am happy with the way I managed to contribute to the team’s success today. I scored many easy points on fast breaks and I am thankful to my teammates for sharing the ball and trusting me”.
Rossen Barchovski, Head Coach of CSKA Sofia
“The final score doesn’t make much sense to me. We played very well during the first half and most of the 3rd quarter, however losing three of the team’s leaders took a negative effect on the team. We were forced to finish the game with players that don’t usually get much playing time.
I am not making excuses, but it would be much easier for me to face a 12 – 15 point loss. That would actually reflect the flow of the game.
The fact that Kiev is at the top of the table doesn’t surprise me at all. Before the league started I had thought they would be the group’s favourite. Our goal was to try to take fourth place, but now it looks as though the task is not realistic. We’ll still try to play hard and gain as much experience from the remaining FIBA Europe League as possible.”