|Sergey Karasev and Triumph Lyubertsy upset favourites Fuenlabrada for the second time on the road|
Triumph Lyubertsy hit a lot of bumps in the road this season but on Tuesday night, the Russians clinched their passage to the EuroChallenge Final Four.
Getting 26 points from Tywain McKee, 14 from Kyle Landry and 10 from Jerry Jefferson, Triumph won 80-65 at Mad-Croc Fuenlabrada to seal a 2-1 victory in the Quarter-Final tie.
Triumph, who won Game 1 at Fuenlabrada as well, have joined Szolnoki Olaj in the Final Four, with the Hungarians having punched their ticket earlier in the night with a Game 3 victory at BK Ventspils.
Besiktas and Elan Chalon swept their respective Quarter-Final ties to progress to the end-of-season showpiece event.
Triumph deserved Tuesday's win, but they got some help along the way as Fuenlabrada shot woefully at the free-throw line.
The Spaniards were just five of 15, with many of the misses coming as they tried to claw their way back in the fourth quarter.
Fuenlabrada had no answer for Jefferson and Triumph on the boards.
Jefferson finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, and Triumph grabbed 44 as a team to just 27 for the hosts.
Triumph took the lead for good midway through the second quarter when Victor Zvarykin drilled a shot from the arc for a 32-31 advantage.
They ended the first half with a 10-4 run for a 46-38 lead.
Fuenlabrada came storming back after the restart with Mike Hall's basket cutting the deficit to 46-44.
Dimitry Kulagin hit a jumper and then Sergey Karasev nailed a three-pointer to stretch the lead to 51-44.
Triumph again finished the quarter strong, this time with a 10-1 run for a 63-49 lead and their victory was never in doubt the rest of the way, with Fuenlabrada getting no closer than eight points in the last frame.
Vasiliy Karasev, who began the season as an assistant coach at Triumph Lyubertsy but was recently confirmed as the head coach following Valdemaras Chomicius' departure from the club, is now one of the rising stars in the profession.
Triumph have looked an excellent, young team under his guidance.
Their success would have been by an even bigger margin had the team shot better at the line.
They were 16 of 26 (61.5%).
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"We are very happy. This victory was the reward for a job well done. We played very aggressive from the start. I think the key has been that we have played more fresh and we had several days to prepare for the match. We played a very balanced way. It's a shame that Mad Croc Fuenlabrada has had only one day to prepare for this match after a tough match in the Spanish league. I am very proud of the work of my young players, they are competing at the highest level knowing. They are the future of the Russian national team."
Dimitry Kulagin, point guard of Triumph Lyubersty
"We managed to play at a high level of intensity. The key is that we have been more fresh than them and we played with great regularity. We are very happy to have entered the Final Four and is the reward for a job well done. It was our chance to make it big in Europe this season and we have taken advantage of."
Porfi Fiscac, coach of Mad Croc Fuenlabrada
"It was a shame, but we played with too much anxiety. In some phases of the game have been too fast. In some parts of the game we have heavy doubts and have paid the confusion of ideas. Anyway, I'm very proud with the level of commitment and dedication of my players throughout the season. It is time to lift your head and look ahead."
Quino Colom, point guard of Mad Croc Fuenlabrada
"We lacked intensity to compete on equal terms with the Triumph. I think we played too many matches and have accumulated excessive fatigue. It's a great shame, but we must learn from our mistakes and better compete in the Spanish league. The EuroChallenge has helped us grow as a team and to visit beautiful places. But now we must focus on the ACB."