Stellar performances by Marcus Douthit and Ernest Bremer helped Krasnye Krylia to a dream start in their EuroChallenge quarter-final series against KK Zagreb as the Russian side recorded an impressive 81-77 road win in Croatia.
|Marcus Douthit was a rebounding machine, coralling 15 rebounds to give him a double double in the win|
Douthit claimed a stunning double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds to lead the way for the visitors as they struck the first blow in the race to claim a place in the Final Four.
Bremer meanwhile had the hot hand all night long and buried six triples on his way to 21 points.
The powerful Douthit was right on the money from the outset and helped his team into an early 16-7 lead but Zagreb came storming back at the start of the second quarter with a fine 9-0 run.
A triple by Toni Dijan gave them the advantage at 23-21 but ahead of half-time it was the visiting team back in the ascendancy and they edged the first half 38-36 with Douthit already having recorded a double-double.
By the time Bremer converted a triple and Douthit followed it up with dunk with just under three minutes left in the third period, Krasnye Krylia were 49-58 in front.
However the home team rallied and a Simon triple with three minutes remaining in the contest tied the scores at 73-73 to set up a tense finale.
However the the visitors edged in front and then held their nerve from the free-throw line to record a super victory - despite 22 points apiece from KK Zagreb pair Damir Mulaomerovic and Luka Zoric.
KK Zagreb head coach Denis Bajramovic:
"We deserve to lose this game, this was not the game we wanted to play, there was no fluency in the game, the ball did not go through. Since a lot of players have just recovered we did not have a choice but to play with the players who have not been in the team for quite a while. We have tried different tacticts but unfortunately, it just did not work. We started the game too reluctantly, while for some players it was obvious that they played under a lot of strain. We were not concentrated enough which made it more difficult. In two days we play in Samara , so nothing has been lost yet. This will be a game with equal chances. If we manage to win in Russia, I 'm sure that in the third game, in a week in Zagreb we will play good enough to confirm our place in th Final four."
KK Zagreb player Krunoslav Simon:
"What a pity! We have missed a big chance so now we must try to make it up in Russia. Unfortunately, we did not do our best when we had to. For the last couple of games, we have had a lot problems with injured players or the players who were ill and this is the pay time. In the new game in two days, we just have to play much better and do our best to win and put Zagreb back in the winning series. We must try to get to the Final four through the third game."
Krasnye Krylia head coach Mikhail Mikhailov:
"I would like to congratulate my players on a big victory. They have mainly played what we have agreed upon. We have prepared well for this game knowing that Zagreb can play very dangerously. We were also aware of their problems with injured and ill players. We decided to fight till the very end, and we did it, in the last minutes we played more concentated and with more freshness and have deserved to win."
Krasnye Krylia guard Ernest Bremer:
"We have played a very good game, playing in a calm and concentrated way at the very finals of the game when Zagreb tried to return and change the result. We did a very good job and now we have to confirm this victory in two days, playing at home in Samara and secure the Final four."