|Despite Krka's decisive win on the weekend, Aleksandar Dzikic is commanding more from his players|
Triumph Lyubertsy and Krka Novo Mesto followed up on their midweek EuroChallenge success with vital wins over the weekend, fortifying their options for play-off berths in the VTB United League and ABA Adriatic League, respectively.
Krka clinched an 80-65 victory at home over Serbian side Mega Vizura, also securing the head-to-head advantage against a direct competitor for a top-8 finish in the Regular Season of the Adriatic League, as they had lost 78-74 in the reverse fixture in Smederevo.
The Slovenian outfit used a strong start to the clash to jump to a 42-32 lead at the half-time buzzer and, despite the fact they struggled offensively in the third quarter, scoring only 11 points, that cushion enabled them keep proceedings under complete control until the end.
Muric scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the floor and added six rebounds, while Klobucar finished with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting and dished out four assists.
Despite the success, Krka head coach Aleksandar Dzikic still demands more from his players.
"I am not happy with certain parts of the game, such as our concentration, our failure to comply with certain tasks and occasionally our energy," Dzikic said.
"We were missing Sani Becirovic but somehow we managed to patch that hole as [Erjon] Kastrati played probably his most mature game so far while Muric with Klobucar did what we already know they are capable of.
"We have to play better on offence but I can be satisfied with our defence," Dzikic admitted.
"It is good that we won, especially ahead of the tough games on the road that await us."
Krka, who now stand at 7-10, are travelling first to Igokea and then to Zadar over the next two weeks, before playing host to MZT Skopje Aerodrom in a potentially decisive clash.
|Courdon Higgins claimed a vital late intercept for Triumph Lyubertsy, holding onto the ball to run the clock down to earn his team victory over Krasny Oktyabr in VTB League action|
On Saturday night meanwhile, Triumph overcame an eight-point third quarter deficit and a VTB League all-time high 18 assists by Krasny Oktyabr's Willie Deane to claim an important 86-83 win over the Volgograd side on the road.
Triumph pushed ahead midway through the final frame and after Jeremy Chappell sunk two free throws with 11 seconds left on the clock to give the visitors their three-point cushion, Cory Higgins intercepted Krasny Oktyabr's in-bound pass and kept the ball until the final buzzer, preventing the hosts from attempting a last shot.
Chappell went 4-for-6 from three-point range and led all scorers with 22 points, adding five assists, Higgins finished with 19 points and also dished out five assists, while Dmitriy Kulagin picked up 12 points and seven rebounds and Milovan Rakovic chipped in with 11 points.
"We had a tough trip from France after the game with Dijon," said Triumph head coach Vasily Karasev.
"The players only had time for an evening practice and weren't in ideal shape, the start of the game showed that.
"We were very slow and missed open shots, but thanks to the team for turning this game around."
Triumph are now in third place in Regular Season Group B with a 7-5 record, which gives them the upper hand in the play-off race, but four of their six remaining games in the regular season are on the road.
CHOLET ADD THOMAS BUT CAN'T SNAP SKID
|Claude Marquis and Cholet Basket had a week to forget, losing all three of their encounters|
Cholet Basket secured the services of Torey Thomas on Friday but the 29-year-old point guard could only watch from the sidelines as his new team were suffering their third loss in the space of a week a day later, 78-68 to Limoges.
Playing at home, Cholet started strong against the joint French Pro A leaders and led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter but Limoges kept them to just 11 points in the second frame and claimed a 42-38 lead at half-time, never to look back again.
None of Cholet's guards scored in double digits and the French team will be looking for a boost in the backcourt from their new acquisition.
Thomas should require minimum time to adjust to his new surroundings, as he is coming from fellow Pro A team Le Mans, where he spent one month as cover for the sidelined through injury Da Shaun Wood.
In his five games with Le Mans, he averaged 7.2 points, 2.4 assists, 2.5 rebounds and two steals per game.
The 1.80m American playmaker had started the season at Turkish BEKO TBL side Aliaga Petkim but featured in only two games.
Thomas played half of last season at Pesaro in the Italian Serie A, contributing 3.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per encounter.
Meanwhile the other French team that compete in the EuroChallenge, JDA Dijon, returned to winning ways at the weekend and continue as one of the four co-leaders of the Pro A, with an 11-5 record.
Dijon were not impressive but led Roanne from start to finish to pick up a 69-59 victory at home.
Mykal Riley paved the way for the winners with a game-high 19 points on 3-of-5 from downtown and added five rebounds and two assists, Andre Harris collected 14 points and five boards while Anthony Dobbins and Terrance Campbell added 11 points apiece.
ABA ADRIATIC LEAGUE
|Maxime De Zeeuw's impressive season continued for PO Antwerp Giants during weekend action|
BELGIAN ETHIAS LEAGUE
Port of Antwerp Giants snapped their domestic losing streak in convincing fashion, as they cruised past league leaders Belgacom Spirou 82-67 at home. Maxime De Zeeuw paved Antwerp's path with a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds while Ben Simons and Frank Turner contributed 14 points each.
BALTIC BASKETBALL LEAGUE
ITALIAN SERIE A
Reggio Emilia suffered their first defeat at home this season, as they scored only 13 points in the final quarter and fell 80-73 to Cimberio Varese. Greg Brunner had 16 points and James White added 12 points and six rebounds in losing efforts.
|Sharaud Curry accumulated 26 points in Team TEHO Sport Kotka's weekend win|
Team TEHO Sport Kotka finished strong and prevailed 98-91 in a tight clash with second-placed Tampereen Pyrintö at home, to climb to third place in the Korisliiga with a record. Sharaud Curry had a fantastic game and finished with 26 points and nine rebounds, Michael Pounds added 18 points while Ryan Ayers and Timo Heinonen chipped in with 16 points each.
Ural Ekaterinburg claimed their sixth win in a row in their domestic competition at the weekend as they beat TEMP-SUMZ 93-79 at home on the back of stellar displays from Aaron Mc Ghee and Lance Harris, who collected 27 and 20 points, respectively.
VTB UNITED LEAGUE
Krasnye Krylia paid for a poor first-half performance and fell 77-66 to Astana at home, although their new signing Filip Videnov contributed a team-high 17 points on 7-of-10 from the floor. Aaron Miles collected a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds and Michal Ignerski, who was also making his debut with Samara, finished with 10 points.