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|
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.
Rimas Girskis, Coach of Azovmash Mariupol:
"I think everybody enjoyed this game. I congratulate Ural Great with this victory, they really deserved it. In the fourth quarter when it seemed that the game was done my players lost concentration. I called for two timeouts but they didn't help.
We lacked game discipline. If we would have won this game it would have given us a straight road into the playoffs and solidified third place in the group. In this respect Ural Great needed this victory much more than we to keep their chances alive for qualification. This gave them additional strength and motivation."
Alexander Skutyelnik, Guard of Azovmash Mariupol:
"It is a very painful loss for us. We lost the game because we weren't disciplined. I would like to give my respect to the Perm team that showed today their strong fighting character till the very end. And basketball is a game that can go down to the wire."
Valdemaras Chomicius, Coach of Ural Great Perm:
"I am very happy and I want to say many thanks to all of my players. They are so good that even after such a demoralizing loss to CSKA Moscow last Saturday they managed to find the strength to fight. In the very end my players turned the game around and showed their character. They won this game and I helped them. All of them were heros today."
Vyacheslav Shushakov, Guard of Ural Great Perm:
"Azovmash is the leader in the Ukrainian championship and they are placed third in our group. So all this gave them an advantage for this game. We studied a lot their play but it didn't protect us from making mistakes. In the end we played more on our character and this helped us capture this victory that we needed so much."