Samara Three-point Shooting Barrage Buries Keravnos


CSK-VVS Samara trailed in the first half but fought back and thrashed Keravnos to capture the EuroCup Challenge title.

Valeriy Tikhonenko's team, beaten 85-83 in the first leg at Keravnos, prevailed 101-81 on Thursday to win the final by 18 points on aggregate.

Nikita Shabalkin, the club's high-scoring, 20-year-old power forward, led the way with 24 points.

Greek guard Georgios Diamantopoulos weighed in with 22 and American Kelvin Gibbs poured in 21.

This was anything but a straight forward victory for the Samara team, though.

When Victor King's jump shot fell through the rim with 1:55 to go in the opening quarter, Keravnos led 26-19.

While the home side chipped away and closed the gap to two, the visitors maintained their confidence and again stretched the advantage to eight, Predrag Kosanovic's jumper making it 36-28 with 6:39 to go in the first half.

Tikhonenko, a former Russian international player, watched his troops battle hard and they stormed back to take a 44-43 lead on Gibbs' dunk with 30 seconds to go before the intermission.

King tormented the hosts in the first two periods and finished with 22 points.

He nailed a jump shot to put Keravnos in front at 45-44 at half-time and give them hope.

King took his tally to 17 with 6:44 to go in the third for a 52-51 lead.

Samara then took control.

Three-balls by Gennady Zelenskiy and Gibbs came at the front of a 12-2 run for the home side, who led 63-54 with 4:31 remaining.

After King split two at the charity stripe, Shabalkin received a pass from Omar Cook and dunked to make it 65-55 with 3:29 to go in the third.

A three-point play by Panagiotis Trisokkas cut the defict for Keravnos to 68-62 in the final minute of the third quarter.

They would get no closer.

Gibbs and Diamantopoulos each made shots from behind the arc early in the fourth quarter to put Samara on their way to a comprehensive triumph.

By the end of the contest, Gibbs, Diamantopoulos and Zelenskiy had combined to hit 12 of 17 shots from long range, with Samara finishing a very impressive 56.5% (13 of 23).

Inside the arc, Samara finished a scintillating 65% (26 of 40).

Keravnos lost, but neverthess had a terrific campaign in the EuroCup Challenge and that bodes well for the team in the future.

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