|Jaka Klobucar finished the game with a stat line of 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists|
Krka Novo Mesto came back from a nine-point third-quarter deficit on Tuesday and claimed an 80-75 win over Ural Ekaterinburg in a dramatic premiere to EuroChallenge Group F action.
The Slovenian hosts seemed to be in complete control early on, as Luka Lapornik scored all of his eight points to lift them to a 23-9 lead.
As Krka's shooting percentages however begun to drop dramatically (the hosts converted only three of their 15 three-point attempts), Ekaterinburg started feeling more adventures from long range and Fedor Kliuchnikov with Dmitrii Nikolaev hit back-to-back three-pointers to tie the scores at 33 with 5:37 left to play in the second quarter.
An Edo Muric triple gave Krka some breathing space, 46-41, just before the interval but that level of precision was a rare occurance for the Slovenian side on Tuesday.
With Krka struggling offensively in the third quarter, Ekaterinburg used a 17-2 burst to turn a 49-43 deficit into a 60-51 lead on an Alexander Korchagin jumper 1:54 from the end of the third period.
With time running out, Krka tightened the screws on defence in the final stanza and were finally able to get some scores in transition.
Jasmin Hukic sunk two free throws to tie the scores at 64 with 5:07 remaining to the final buzzer and the same player gave Krka a 68-66 lead with 3:51 on the clock.
Anton Glazunov however hit a three-pointer and Korchagin converted two shots from the foul line to bring Ekaterinburg ahead again, 75-73 with just 1:30 left to play.
On the next critical possession, Matej Rojc missed a three but Smiljan Pavic grabbed the offensive rebound, and was fouled as he was scoring with a lay-up.
He converted the and-one play to give Krka a 76-75 lead with 1:04 on the clock and after Glazunov misfired at the other end of the court, Jaka Klobucar dunked on the fast break to make it 78-75 for Krka.
Hukic and Klobucar led Krka with 16 points each and combined for 17 rebounds and eight assists.
Pavic scored nine of his 15 points in the clutch to help Krka turn the tables and added six rebounds, while Muric, who also picked up 15 points, collected nine boards.
Glazunov finished with 14 points and Nikolaev registered a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds for Ekaterinburg in losing efforts.
Krka Head Coach Aleksander Dzikic:
"We had problems with our playmakers. Rojc hasn't practiced for eight days, Armstead is injured and he couldn't help us. So Klobucar had to organise our game and he hasn't done that in years. We won against a very experienced and ambitious team. We started very good but then we lost the pace when we had to change some players. We were also very motivated with their statement that they came to Novo Mesto to win."
Krka Player Smiljan Pavic:
"It was a very tough game. After our big lead in the first quarter we thought that it might be an easy game for us. But they are a very experienced team and they managed to get back. We were almost lost but with team play we managed to achieve an important win."
Ural Ekaterinburg Head Coach Oleg Okulov:
"Krka is a well known team with great traditions. We played good in some moments, but such competition is something new for us. We only played two matches in the qualification last year. Krka was the better team today but we have more games in front of us."
Ural Ekaterinburg Player Alexander Korchagin:
"It was a tough game with a lot of faults. A lot of people came to see the game and support their team. Krka is a good young team, they played good. EuroChallenge just started, we'll try to be better in our next games."