|Stefan Wessels provided the big plays in a crucial second-quarter run for the Shoeters|
SPM Shoeters Den Bosch have had the perfect return to Europe, claiming a 78-71 win over Rakvere Tarvas to open their 2013/14 EuroChallenge account.
American center Tai Wesley led the scoring for the hosts, ending the clash with 24 points, but on a late second-quarter run which provided Den Bosch with a nine-point buffer going into the second half, it was Stefan Wessels providing the big plays.
With three minutes to go in the opening half, the game was tense with the hosts holding a slender two-point, 31-29 lead.
Wessels then came to the fore, sinking a pair of free throws before following it up with a three-pointer soon after to give his team the lead, 39-30.
On five-for-eight shooting, Wessels finished with 15 points.
Silver Leppik assured the game remained interesting in the third period, sinking a three with the clock showing 6:40 to have Tarvas back within four, 43-39.
However, David Gonzalvez and Kees Akerboom took over for the hosts, combining to reel off the next 10 Shoeters points to put the gap out to 14 points.
Gonzalvez registered 12 points by the end of the night whilst Akerboom had 10.
Tarvas may have fancied their chances midway through the last quarter when a Kristo Saage three brought them back within six, 70-64, but the door was closed as quickly as it had opened as Wessels and Gonzalvez steered their team home.
Veterans Rait Keerles and Gregory Jenkins shared a team-high 14 points for the visitors.
Rakvere Tarvas Head Coach Andres Sober:
"I think we played very good. We've got a new team, and we get much better every game. The game got better every quarter. At first, the first ten minutes, we were stronger. But overall the Shoeters were much better, they were ahead of us by five points all the time. So the Shoeters were the strongest team tonight."
Rakvere Tarvas Player Gregory Jenkins:
"Shoeters had an answer to everything tonight. They were very good. Now we know what to expect when they come to Estonia. Next time we have to make sure we have a better strategy. We've got to learn from it. I had three fouls in the first quarter already, that hurts. I have to learn not to get influenced by that."
SPM Shoeters Head Coach Sam Jones:
"I'm very pleased. We played aggressive and were the deciding team, offensive and defensive. In the first half the turnovers were a big issue. That went much better in the second half. I think that was critical for the game, it got better every quarter. In the fourth quarter we had zero turnovers. I'm proud of the team and the effort. I hope we can continue building on this. We're going to focus on Saturday first. After that we can talk about the next Europe game."
SPM Shoeters Player Tai Wesley:
"It was a very good game, you can always do things better of course but I'm happy. The EuroChallenge is one of the reasons to come back to Den Bosch. And the situation here is the best for me. The people are great, and I just feel very happy being here."