BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|EuroChallenge MVP Chester Simmons took over his good form into the play-offs, contributing a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds against Triumph|
EuroChallenge champions Krasnye Krylia sealed their passage to the VTB United League quarter-finals on Friday, with a 77-67 win over Triumph Lyubertsy at home.
The Samara team had prevailed on the road with a similar score, 76-69, over their fellow Russian side in Game 1 of the best-of-three series, last Wednesday.
Sergey Bazarevich's side will now face Euroleague powerhouse CSKA Moscow in the quarter-finals, in a best-of-five series, with the first game on 16 May in the Russian capital.
On Friday, Krasnye Krylia started strong to take a 22-12 lead at the first buzzer but Triumph, playing with their backs to the wall, used a 10-0 run in the start of the second quarter to tie the scores midway through the period.
Vasiliy Karasev's team then tried to take control of proceedings and quickly took a four-point lead which however proved short-lived as the hosts reacted immediately and scored the last six points in the first half to tie the scores again, 39-39, on a Dmitriy Kulagin basket.
Krasnye Krylia still did not look entirely sharp on offence upon their return from the locker rooms - they finished the game with 21 turnovers - but did not allow their guests to regain the lead thanks to an excellent effort on the defensive end of the floor
The hosts gradually established a small cushion which became a double digit lead after they went on a 10-4 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and led 61-51 nine minutes from the end of the encounter.
They managed that lead the rest of the way and never allowed Triumph to reduce the gap to less than six points at any point until the final buzzer.
Chester Simmons paved the way to victory for Krasnye Krylia with a double-double display of 25 points, on 9-for-14 shooting from the floor including 5-for-7 from behind the three-point arc, and 10 rebounds.
Kulagin added 12 points and five rebounds while Andre Smith finished with 11 points and five boards.
Krasnye Krylia out-rebounded Triumph 43-34 and made 46% of their shots, to their guests' 34%.
In the remaining three first-round play-off match-ups, Astana lead VEF Riga 1-0, Spartak St. Petersburg are 1-0 up against Nizhny Novgorod while Eurocup champions Lokomotiv Kuban have won the first frame of their series with Donetsk.