Dynamo St Petersburg have a new coach and some new faces, but the results are the same in European action.
After going unbeaten last season in the FIBA Europe League, Dynamo have started their EuroCup Group A campaign on fire with three straight triumphs after a 66-54 win at CSU Asesoft Ploiesti on Tuesday.
Dynamo used a 21-2 surge to end the third quarter to take control for good against a team that fought hard but was ultimately outclassed.
|Ognjen Askrabic |
Jerry McCullough, brought in as Ed Cota's replacement at point guard, had eight points and three assists while scoring machine Kelly McCarty also finished with eight points.In total, 10 players got on the scoresheet for St Petersburg
Sasa Ocokoljic paced the Romanians - last year's FIBA Europe Cup, Romanian league and Cup champions - with 22 points.
It was his three-point shooting which kept the home side in the game until St Petersburg found their range at the end of the third period.
Nigerian international Julius Nwoso, a key member of his country's national side this summer as they won a bronze medal at the FIBA Africa Championship, finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
His performance under the boards wasn't enough, however, as Fotsis Katsikaris' St Petersburg dominated the boards 49-29.
The turning point of the contest came with 7:15 left in the third quarter with Ploiesti ahead, 33-32.
Romanian big man Catalin Burlacu - their most valuable player last season - received his fourth foul and was booked with a technical foul directly thereafter for his fifth.
He left with no points and only two rebounds in just 11 minutes of action.
Even with his contributions minimal in the boxscore, his exit was a psychological blow because Burlacu's team-mates then fell apart on offence.
St Petersburg closed the third quarter on a 21-2 run to make it 51-35.
Askrabic's three-pointer with eight minutes remaining in the game pushed the advantage to 20 points, 56-36.
And Asesoft were unable to pull closer than 11 points the rest of the way, although Dumitru Virgil Carutasu scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth.
In the first quarter, St Petersburg had used a 12-0 to open a 14-3 lead before Asesoft were able to close to 19-12 after one period.
Nwosu scored the first basket of the second quarter, but an unsportsmanlike foul by Carutasu turned out to be a five-point possession with Dramir Zibirov hitting two free throws and Damir Miljkovic burying a three-pointer as the lead bulged to 24-14.
The Romanians came back again as Ocokoljic scored nine points in a 12-4 run to close the half down just two, 28-26.
St Petersburg went on their decisive third quarter spurt, however, and marched to victory.
Katsikaris and Co play at Azovmash Mariupol on November 15 in their next game.
Asesoft, who have a single victory with two defeats in the EuroCup, travel to Cholet in the next EuroCup game and should be confident after beating the French the first time in Romania.