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Ukraine: Azovmash Romp To Win Over Kyiv

19 November 2005

Azovmash Mariupol landed the first blow in the battle for Ukrainian supremacy by winning decisively at home against defending champions BC Kyiv on Saturday.

Kyiv, who finished runners-up in the FIBA Europe League last season but then beat Azovmash in the Ukrainian play-off finals, suffered their first domestic loss of the campaign, 87-64.

As glamorous clashes go, this is as good as it gets in Ukraine. Both Azovmash and BC Kyiv are leading teams in the EuroCup and will fancy their chances of lifting the European crown.

Azovmash have two wins and two defeats in Group A, but both of their losses are against Dynamo St Petersburg, another of the contenders. Kyiv, who are playing without the injured LaMarr Greer, have a 3-1record in Group G.

Saturday belonged to Azovmash.

They began impressively and had it not been for the outstanding play of Kyiv center Ratko Varda, the hosts would have been in command early but they only led 23-22 after the first quarter.

Kenan Bajramovic gave Azovmash a spark off the bench - he would end up scoring 22 points in the game - as the hosts outscored Kyiv 21-11 in the second period to lead 44-33 at half-time.

Azovmash did not pull away in the third quarter, but they did add to their lead and held a 69-55 advantage with 10 minutes to play.

Rimas Girskis' men then tightened the screws on defence, holding Kyiv to just nine points in the fourth quarter, to win convincing and remain as the only side yet to lose in Ukraine.

Khalid El-Amin, who is without a doubt Azovmash's best off-season acquisition, tore apart Kyiv with a game-high 26 points. He also dished out four assists and came up with four steals.

Arnas Kazlauskas added 14 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Kyiv's Varda had a solid game with 18 points and six rebounds.

He and Dusan Kecman, who finished with 10 points, were the only two Kyiv players to score in double figures.

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