By Doug Booth, PA International
Fired-up Azovmash Mariupol center Art Long refuses to lose heart following his side's 88-77 loss to Dynamo St Petersburg during Tuesday's FIBA Europe League quarter-final against Dynamo St Petersburg.
The Russian giants won the contest 88-77 but Long, who scored a game-high 34 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, said his Ukraine team-mates were far from down and out of the
||I will step up to any challenge
"We all feel that they got some calls that helped them out on their home court," Long, who was given a technical foul for complaining about a call in the final quarter, told PA International.
"They were close calls but they really hurt us and got us down when they went in their favour.
Long added that he had become a marked man in Europe because he was consistently "putting up the good numbers - 20 points and 10 rebounds - in a game."
He added: "I get frustrated because the opposition have to find ways to stop you.
"Whether it is a cheap shot in my back or just being pushed around I feel I am not getting the respect from referees I deserve at times."
But Long said the extra pressure would not drive him away from Europe. "All I want to do is play basketball," he said.
"I will step up to any challenge so I am going to stick around. I am not going to run away from it."
Despite the loss to St Petersburg, Long felt the defeat was due to Azovmash playing badly, rather than the Russia champions playing well.
"We gave them a few turnovers from which they had opportunities to score," said Long.
"We also gave them the lanes to the basket. We were not outplayed, we simply did not play at our best. We have to go out (on Friday) and play our own game and not be worried about the referees and the opposition."
Long said two players stood out in the St Petersburg ranks. Swedish-born guard Jon Stefansson had 22 points but it was Ed Cota who proved to be the difference in the clutch.
"Cota ran the team, talking and directing his guys through the offense," said Long.
"I need to control both of them on Friday."