BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Nikita Balashov had a shared team-high 14 points for Krasnye Krylia |
The two teams set to do battle in the first semi-final of the EuroChallenge Final Four on 26 April were on the road in domestic league action on Tuesday night, coming up with mixed results.
Krasnye Krylia clinched an important 79-73 victory at Nizhny Novgorod and improved to 7-6 in the Russian PBL standings.
BCM Gravelines Dunkerque meanwhile failed in their attempt to become the solitary leaders of the French Pro A, after falling 80-76 at Roanne.
The Russian EuroChallenge semi-finalists started off very solid on defence in Nizhny Novgorod and gave up only 32 points to their hosts in the first half, to hold a 10-point lead at the half-time interval.
They returned from the locker rooms looking much less focused though and Nizhny Novgorod cut the gap to five points in the third quarter, bringing back memories of Krasnye Krylia's drop in performance in the second half of last week's 84-72 defeat at Spartak Primorye.
This time around however, unlike in Vladivostok, Sergey Bazarevich's players still had plenty left in the tank in the clutch and turned their defensive intensity up a notch in the final frame, outscoring their hosts 17-16 to hold on to their lead.
21-year-old Russian forward Nikita Balashov went 6-for-8 from the floor to collect 14 points and was Krasnye Krylia's joint-leading scorer, together with Chester Simmons, who shot 5-for-10 from the field and also picked up five rebounds.
Power forward Andre Smith had a team-high six rebounds to go with his 12 points for the Samara outfit.
Meanwhile in France, BCM had a very productive second quarter, in which they scored 29 points, and took a 48-41 lead at half-time over their hosts Roanne.
Unfortunately for the EuroChallenge semi-finalists though, this was followed by a poor display in the second half, in which they scored less points (28) than in the second period alone.
BCM's offensive woes were exemplified by their poor outside shooting (1-for-13 from behind the three-point arc), while they also lost the battle on the glass, collecting only 19 boards to Roanne's 29.
The only three players to shoot above 50% were also the only ones to score in double digits for BCM.
Small forward Kennedy Winston led all scorers with 21 points, power forward Juan Edwards had 18 points while Ludovic Vaty added 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds in losing efforts.
Point guard Dwight Buycks meanwhile, who is BCM's leading scorer in both the Pro A and the EuroChallenge, was on a bad shooting night (2-for-10 from the floor) and finished with eight points.