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Ukraine: Kyiv Beat Azovmash But Fail To Snatch First Place

24 April 2006

BC Kyiv romped to victory over Azovmash but failed to leapfrog their Ukraine and EuroCup rivals into first place on the final weekend of the regular season.

Renato Pasquali & Co won 92-73 but came up five points short of taking over first place as Azovmash thrashed BC Kyiv in Mariupol 87-63 earlier in the season.

As a consequence, Azovmash have homecourt advantage throughout the play-offs.

Kyiv almost overcame their 23-point deficit to pip Azovmash to first place with Afik Nissim burying two three-pointers in a row near the end, but it wasn't to be.

"At first, we had to beat Azovmash and then we could try to eliminate Mariupol's game margin," said Nissim. "Though we failed to solve the second problem, we proved that we're able to beat them."

Kyiv are feeling the pressure to deliver a Ukraine title after falling to DKV Joventut in the EuroCup Final Four.

They did bounce back to win a nail-biter against Dynamo St Petersburg, but as hosts of the event, Kyiv had desperately wanted to win the event in front of their fans.

"We were disappointed about the EuroCup Final Four result," said Pasquali.

"But then I explained to my team that third place is really good for such a kind of tournament.

"And I'm proud of that result even more than of the second place in the FIBA Europe League last year."

Kyiv were runners-up to Dynamo St Petersburg last season and while that competition was tough, this year's EuroCup had even better teams taking part.

There were no Spanish teams in last year's event, for example, and the ACB is widely considered to be the best league in Europe.

This year, both DKV Joventut and Gran Canaria took part in the EuroCup and, not surprisingly, the former won.

"I'm really satisfied by the way we played today," said Pasquali after the win over Azovmash.

Azovmash, behind the solid play of Ukrainian international Serhiy Lischuk, led by seven points lead at the end of the first quarter but they could not hold on.

"We started badly, mainly on defense," Pasquali said. "So I asked my players to improve and to concentrate on rebounds and it worked."

"We lost our concentration after we took a lead," Azovmash's coach Rimas Girskis said. "Our forwards, except Lischuk, didn't show their (best) game.

"Still we are the first in the regular championship so this is a good advantage for us."

Superstar guard Khalid El-Amin had 21 points, while Lischuk poured in 17 and grabbed eight rebounds for Azovmash.

Nissim scored 23 points and team-mate Goran Nikolic weighed in with 21 and eight rebounds.

Azovmash will face Krivbasbasket and BC Kyiv will take on Sumykhimprom in the quarter-final showdowns.

In the other matchups, Khimik host MBC Mykolaiv and Dnipro battle Cherkasky Mavpy.

Azovmash, BC Kyiv, Khimik and Mykolaiv are also taking part in the Ukrainian Cup Final Four in Mariupol next week.

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