|Omar Thomas took responsibility in the first minutes of the game, scoring 16 of his 28 points in the first quarter|
TURNING POINT: With 5:43 left on the clock in the final frame and the scores tied at 62, Chester Simmons sunk a three-pointer from the corner and then chased down Yannick Bokolo, stole the ball and run up the court again to finish with a lay-up and give Krasnye Krylia a five-point cushion within the space of fifteen seconds.
GAME HERO: While Lamayn Wilson came from the bench to make a fantastic contribution to Samara's cause in the clutch, it's hard to look past Omar Thomas' 16 points on 5-for-6 two-point shooting and 2-for-3 from three-point range in the first quarter, when the BCM defence kept Simmons under lock and key.
STATS DON'T LIE: Samara had six steals and 10 assists and scored 18 of their 41 first-half points in transition, while BCM had eight turnovers already in the second quarter and were forced to play catch-up for the rest of game.
Krasnye Krylia made use of their extended scoring options on Friday in Izmir and defeated BCM Gravelines Dunkerque 81-78 to take their unbeaten EuroChallenge run to 15 games and reach the big final of the competition.
Right from tip-off, it became clear that the French league leaders' primary mission in the first EuroChallenge semi-final was to limit the Russian side's two main offensive weapons, Chester Simmons (15.4 ppg going into the Final Four) and Andre Smith (14.2 ppg).
BCM coach Christian Monschau started with Yannick Bokolo on Simmons, and then Julius Johnson and Abdoulaye Mbaye took turns in making difficult the life of Samara's top scorer on the court.
It worked wonders, as Simmons finished the first half with four points on a poor 2-for-7 from the field, but Samara did not really take long or needed much searching to find reliable alternatives.
Point guard Aaron Miles, who directed his team much better even than his game-high seven assists suggest, kept feeding Omar Thomas and a lay-up from the winger capped a 7-0 Krasnye Krylia run who gave them their first double-digit lead, 20-10, and forced Monschau to call a time-out 2:18 from the end of the first quarter.
Thomas had already picked up 16 points by the time he sat on the bench for a breather midway through the second quarter and the two sides went to the locker-rooms with Samara's lead pretty much intact, 41-34 at half-time.
BCM came back from the interval determined to turn the game around and an Mbaye three-pointer 3:13 from the end of the third quarter reduced the gap to just three points, 53-50, for the first time in 19 minutes of action and forced Krasnye Krylia head coach Sergey Bazarevich to call a time-out.
|Christian Monschau's men made big shots in the final fram, but could not take the lead|
The French side then came within one point but with 2:33 left on the clock in the period Lamayn Wilson gave Krasnye Krylia some much-needed breathing space with a three-pointer from the left wing to take their lead back to four, 56-52.
The French side did not give up and tied the game at 62 for the first time in the encounter on two Juan Edwards free throws 7:32 from the final buzzer, but Simmons with his key double play restored the difference to five points and Samara held out until the end, as BCM never managed to come within less than three points again.
Thomas was not as accurate in the second half as he was during the first quarter, but still led all scorers with 28 points while Simmons finished with 16 and Wilson chipped in with 15 from the bench.
Dwight Buycks had 21 points for BCM, Kennedy Winston finished with 18 points and Ludovic Vaty with 14 and five rebounds in losing efforts.