|23 October 2013|
|Russian international Anton Ponkrashov has been impressing early this season for Krasnye Krylia|
Krasnye Krylia Samara and Tartu University Rock were the winners of direct clashes between EuroChallenge clubs in the VTB United League and the Estonian Alexela KML, respectively, on Tuesday.
Reigning EuroChallenge champions Krasnye Krylia claimed their first victory in Group B of the VTB League Regular Season by defeating fellow Russian side Triumph Lyubertsy 83-70 at home.
On a night where both teams struggled from long range, converting a combined five of 34 three-point shot attempts, Julian Wright provided Krasnye Krylia with a reliable scoring option close to the rim.
The American forward went 10-for-17 from two-point range to collect a game-high 22 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds to complete a double-double display.
Krasnye Krylia seized the initiative at the end of the first quarter by jumping to a 23-18 lead, extended their advantage to 44-35 at half-time and never allowed their guests to pose any significant threat until the final buzzer.
Wright got plenty of help from Artem Zabelin, who finished with 15 points and six rebounds and from Russian international Anton Ponkrashov who had 12 points, while point guard Aaron Miles dished out a game-high eight assists to go with his nine points.
For Triumph, new arrival Cory Higgins finished with 21 points and Serbian big man Milovan Rakovic added 15 points in the losing effort.
"It's nice to win, especially in our first home game of the season with good fan support," said Krasnye Krylia head coach Sergey Bazarevich.
"We hadn't won in a long time, if you include the pre-season, and it was very important to feel confident that we're doing everything right.
"Naturally, we still need to work a lot. The players periodically lost concentration, while our opponent scored a lot of easy baskets."
His opposite number, Triumph head coach Vasiliy Karasev, was not happy with his team's defence.
"Giving up almost 50 points before the break is a lot," Karasev commented.
"[Our] young players, in my view, aren't quite ready to play at this level.
"We'll keep working and can't wait for Kyle Landry to return, we really miss him."
The Canadian center, who joined Triumph in 2011, averaged 12.3 points and 7.1 rebounds in the VTB League last season, but has yet to feature this year due to injury woes.
Krasnye Krylia were drawn in EuroChallenge Regular Season Group B, together with Atomerömü Paks, CSM Oradea and Royal Hali Gaziantep.
Triumph meanwhile will do battle with Gaz Metan Medias, Körmend and BC Kyiv in Group D.
ROCK-SOLID LUKOVIC, SUBLIME BIZACA
|Toni Bizaca was huge for the Södertälje Kings on Tuesday night, sinking 44 points in a Swedish League encounter |
Center Uros Lukovic scored 19 points, brought down 14 boards and came up with a fantastic seven blocks on Tuesday to propel Tartu Rock to a 77-58 win at home over fellow EuroChallenge side Rakvere Tarvas.
"I am more than glad," Tartu head coach Gert Kullamäe said about the performance of the 24-year-old Serbian big man.
"Maybe this game will give him the enthusiasm and sense of security he needs.
"I would like to see this kind of passion in every game."
This was Tartu's sixth success in as many games in the Estonian Alexela MeistriLiiga this season and they remain top of the table as the only unbeaten side in the league, while Tarvas have now dropped to 4-4 but still maintain third place in the standings.
Tarvas seemed to be doing everything right in a difficult encounter on the road on Tuesday, were excellent on defence and went into the locker rooms holding a 37-31 lead over their hosts at the break.
But Tartu came out guns blazing in the third and went on a 17-0 run that turned the game on its head and gave them a 57-45 cushion going into the final frame, leaving the shell-shocked Tarvas with no chance of mounting a comeback.
In addition to Lukovic, Tartu also got good contributions from Augustas Peciukevicius, who finished with 16 points and four assists and the duo of Janar Talts and Vincent Simpson who chipped in with 11 points apiece.
For Tarvas, Giedrius Gustas had 16 points and eight rebounds and Gregory Jenkins picked up 11 points and nine boards in defeat.
Tartu were drawn in Group C in the EuroChallenge, together with BC Zepter Vienna, BK Ventspils and Södertälje Kings.
The Kings were also in action on Tuesday, in the Swedish Basketligan, and came from 10 points down to defeat the Norrköping Dolphins 96-89 at home.
Södertälje owe the biggest part of this success to Toni Bizaca, who resembled an unstoppable force of nature on Tuesday.
The Croatian forward poured in 44 points on 15-for-21 shooting from the floor, including eight three-pointers, and added seven rebounds to ensure the Kings would maintain their unbeaten record in the Swedish league.
Four players combined for 88 of Södertälje's points on the night, as in addition to Bizaca's outlandish display, Martin Pahlmblad had 16 points and six rebounds and Mantas Griskenas with John Roberson chipped in with 14 points each.
The Kings are top of the Basketligan standings with a 6-0 record and one game in hand over second-placed Borås Basket, who are the only other undefeated side so far this season.