|Kevin Kruger made sure Okapi Aalstar got that desired place in the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge in pouring in 20 points against Etha|
Okapi Aalstar needed a win in front of their home fans in Belgium on Tuesday night to advance to the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge and they got it in convincing fashion against ETHA Engomi.
Kevin Kruger led a balanced attack with 20 points as the Aalst club prevailed, 89-73.
The result has left both sides with 3-3 records, but Okapi won both encounters to finish above ETHA in second place in Group F.
Bradley Dean's team took the lead for good when point guard Kruger made a three-pointer and got fouled on the shot at the beginning of the contest.
He made the free-throw for a 5-2 lead.
Christopher Young's lay-up stretched the advantage to 8-2.
ETHA clawed their way back and twice closed the gap to one when Darryl Watkins made free-throws.
Jorn Steinbach scored the last four points of the first quarter, including two free-throws, for a 22-17 Aalstar lead.
When Hans Van Langenhove hit a three-pointer two minutes into the second quarter, the Okapi advantage was 29-21.
A run late in the half saw Okakpi blow the game wide open, with Kruger's three-pointer giving the hosts a 47-28 lead.
ETHA battled back to trail 47-36 with 29 seconds to go in the second quarter on a basket by Dejan Cup and they got to within nine early in the third quarter following lay-ups by Cup and Shawn Ray.
Christopher Copeland's three-point play and another Kruger shot from long range started a decisive run for Okapi, though.
When Kruger hit yet another trey - he was four of seven on the night - with 6:42 to play in the quarter, the advantage was 60-40.
The lead ballooned to 74-50 with 1:22 go in the third on a lay-up by Nate Fox and there was no way back for the visitors.
Stefan Jackson had 16 points and eight rebounds for the winners.