It has been a tough week for Ukrainian league leaders Azovmash Mariupol. At the weekend they lost their first game of their domestic league to Budivelnyk and tonight they lost the opening match of their series with Greek side TIM Maroussi.
A strong start from Maroussi seemed to jangle the Azovmash players’ nerves and they remained on edge for the entire game. Good play from Maroussi put the home team under pressure and they were forced into mistake after mistake. Azovmash did draw level, but consecutive threes from Aleksandar Smiljanic gave Maroussi an 18:25 first quarter lead.
The nerves of the Azovmash players were still not settled after the first period and the game remained frenetic. While Maroussi gradually increased their lead, the Ukrainians tried to shoot their way back into contention, but could only hit 2/7 3-pointers. Maroussi, on the other hand, stayed disciplined and 10 points from Andre Hutson and 12 from Roderick Blakney saw them retain control.
After a similar 3rd quarter, Maroussi led 51:63 leaving Azovmash looking at desperation measures. It was at that point that Azovmash center Volodymyr Gurtovyy attempted to take over the game. Despite only averaging 4.3 ppg until this point in the season, Gurtovvy scored 10 points in 4 minutes and Maroussi’ lead was reduced to 5.
Unfortunately for the home team, their new-found leader suffered an injury on the next possession and the momentum was lost. Maroussi coach Yiannakis put Blakney back into the game and Azovmash’s last hopes died.
Blakney and Hutson led Maroussi with 17 points each, while Blakney was selected MVP.
Viacheslav Ievstratenko and Gurtovyy both netted 16 points for Azovmash.