BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Les Lions de Genève are crowned 2014 Swiss Cup champions (photo: Gill Masters)|
CS Energia Rovinari and Les Lions de Genève sprung surprises in the national cup finals of Romania and Switzerland, respectively, at the weekend to claim their maiden domestic cup title.
The Geneva Lions, a club which was only founded in 2010, stunned Fribourg Olympic 73-59 in the Swiss Cup final, behind an outstanding second-quarter performance.
Following an opening quarter which found the two opponents tied at 18, a fantastic Geneva outscored Fribourg 25-5 in the second frame and reached the half-time buzzer with a 43-23 lead.
"We raised our level in the second quarter, the players put in so much energy and we made some tough shots that helped enormously," said Geneva coach Ivan Rudez.
Fribourg showed no signs of a recovery after the break and Geneva could afford to switch to cruise control mode in the second half and still reach a much easier win than they would have expected.
"I am very proud of my players, they have had all the pressure in the world on their shoulders since the start of the season but they managed to handle it and put in practice everything we had prepared," coach Rudez, who is the brother of Croatian international Damjan Rudez, added.
Antonio Brown led the winners with 16 points, while Andrej Stimac and Juwann James scored 14 points apiece for Geneva.
Meanwhile in Romania, surprise package Energia Rovinari edged out favourites CSM Oradea 58-55 in the big Cup final on Sunday to claim their first ever trophy in any competition.
Oradea looked every bit the part early on, as they jumped to a 15-4 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
Gradually however Rovinari overcame their stage fright and balanced proceedings shortly after the break.
The two rivals traded baskets in a too-close-for-comfort final frame until the dramatic finale, when Oradea turned the ball over on the last possession and then fouled Rovinari shooting guard Sylvanus Troupe Porter, who wrote the final score with two free throws just before the final buzzer.
Giordan Lee Watson paved the way for Rovinari with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists while Nemanja Milosevic came up with a crucial double-double display of 11 points and 16 rebounds.
Louis Darby Jr. and Tal Karpelesz also scored 11 points each for the new cup winners.
|Timo Eichfuss and his Tartu Rock team-mates finished third in the Baltic Basketball League|
SIAULIAI WIN MAIDEN BBL TITLE
Siauliai swept fellow Lithuanian side TonyBet Prienai in the two-legged finals of the Baltic League (BBL) to be crowned champions for the first time in the club's history.
The new champions defeated Prienai 62-57 in the first leg at home and then sealed the title by doing far more than simply defending that five-point advantage, as they registered a 78-66 victory in the second game on the road on Saturday.
After trailing their hosts by 10 points early on in the decisive Saturday clash, Siauliai rallied to take a 39-36 lead at the half-time buzzer and kept TonyBet at arm's length after the break to celebrate the away win and the title conquest.
Rokas Giedraitis paved the way for Siauliai on Saturday with 17 points, Travis Leslie collected a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds while Vytautas Sulskis chipped in with 13 points.
Leslie was the big protagonist for Siauliai in the finals, as he had picked up a team-high 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in Game 1 at home.
Meanwhile Estonian side Tartu University Rock, which had reached the EuroChallenge quarter-finals in March, finished the season in third place after defeating Tampere Pyrinto in the bronze-medal tie.
Tartu won the first leg 75-62 at home and then travelled to Finland on Sunday and also won the return leg, 74-65.
Timo Eichfuss led all Tartu scorers with 21 points on 9-for-13 from two-point range, point guard Vincent Simpson contributed 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists while veteran Estonian international Janar Talts picked up a double-double of 12 points and 12 boards.
During the first eight years of BBL's history and up until 2012, the league title was monopolised by Lithuanian powerhouses Zalgiris Kaunas and Lietuvos Rytas, while Latvian side BK Ventspils lifted the trophy last season.
Although Siauliai reclaimed the league crown for Lithuania at the weekend, they were far from title favourites at the start of the season.
The Lithuanian side had finished in second place in regular season Group B (behind Ventspils) with a 9-3 record but raised their game spectacularly in the post-season.
They first eliminated Ventspils in the quarter-finals and then won both home and away legs of their semi-final clash with Pyrinto to stroll into the final.
In the other semi-final tie, TonyBet had prevailed over Tartu Rock, also with 2-0 wins.