|10 January 2014|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Anton Glazunov picked up where he left off before the Christmas break, posting impressive numbers for Ural|
EuroChallenge Group L opponents Ural Ekaterinburg and Bakken Bears Aarhus have returned to action in their respective domestic leagues after a month-long winter break, in strikingly contrasting form.
Ekaterinburg, who had played their last game in the Russian Superleague in early December, won their first two back-to-back games in the new year and have climbed to third position in the standings with a 9-2 record.
On Thursday night, Ekaterinburg used an explosive start in their home clash against AltajBasket to establish a 27-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and could afford to cruise the rest of the way and still claim an 80-69 win.
The EuroChallenge side's firm grip on proceedings is largely due to their superiority on the glass, as they out-rebounded their guests 39-24.
Point guard Anton Glazunov paved the way for Ekaterinburg with a team-high 18 points on 4-for-8 three-pointers and five assists, Lance Harris picked up a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, veteran Aaron McGhee finished with 12 points and five boards and center Dmitry Flis chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The win over AltajBasket came hot on the heels of Ekaterinburg's first success in 2014 two days previously, against Novosibirsk, who are their direct opponents for first place in the Superleague Regular Season.
Ekaterinburg trailed by seven points early on but balanced the encounter in the second quarter and claimed a slim 45-44 lead just before the half-time break.
Thanks to their balanced offence, as five of their players scored in double-digits, Ekaterinburg were able to pull away in the third and build an eight-point cushion, which proved enough to sustain Novosibirsk's assault in the clutch and ultimately secured them a 92-86 victory.
Glazunov once again paced his team-mates with 20 points on 4-for-7 from downtown and four assists, Harris had 15 points and six rebounds, McGhee 14 points and six boards while young guard Fedor Kliuchnikov came off the bench and contributed 13 crucial points on 4-for-8 from the floor.
Bakken Bears on the other hand, who had already seen their 10-game winning streak in the Danish Basket Ligaen snap on 12 December, suffered a second consecutive defeat on Thursday upon their return to action from the Christmas break.
The Bears travelled to Randers Cimbria for one of the most challenging clashes in their Basket Ligaen calendar and looked stunned early on as their hosts imposed a fast tempo right from tip-off and jumped to a 25-17 lead.
|Chris Christoffersen had a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double in losing efforts|
Brandon Penn poured in nine points in the second quarter and helped Aarhus reduce the gap to five points, 47-42, at the half-time buzzer and the Bears scored the first five points of the game after the break to quickly tie the scores at 47.
The Bears' comeback attempt however was mired by their carelessness with the ball, as they committed 15 turnovers on the night, and they underwent a damning four-minute dry spell after that point.
Randers made the most of it to pull away once again, even extending their lead to 10 points at the start of the final frame.
Despite some late heroics, the Bears simply ran out of time and could not come any closer than three points, losing the game 87-84.
Danish international Chris Christoffersen was immense for Ville Tuominen's side in defeat, going 8-for-10 from the floor to collect a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Penn finished with 18 points and eight boards and veteran Nicolai Iversen had 12 points and eight rebounds in losing efforts.
Bakken now stand at 10-2 in the Basket Ligaen, with Randers and Svendborg Rabbits just above them on the table, with a 12-3 and 11-3 record, respectively.
Ekaterinburg play host to Bakken Bears when the EuroChallenge resumes on Tuesday, while the following day Team TEHO Sport Kotka are entertaining Tsmoki Minsk in Finland, in the other game in Last 16 Group L.