|Julian Wright collected a 16-point, 14-rebound double-double for Krasnye Krylia in victory|
Short-handed Krasnye Krylia were still too strong for Atomeromu Paks as they closed out their successful Group B campaign in the EuroChallenge with a 79-75 victory.
Shooting guard Bracey Wright, the leader of Samara's offence, did not play but they found a way to win without him, if only just after blowing an early 20-point lead.
What was a 27-7 advantage late in the first quarter shrank to just a one-point edge, 45-44, early in the third period and Atomeromu were again within one point in the final minute before a three-pointer from Demetris Nichols effectively killed them off.
With Krasnye Krylia already through to the next round and Atomeromu eliminated, there was little riding on the game and the hosts looked ready to turn it into a rout as they made a blistering start, leading by 20 when Anton Ponkrashov made a pair of free throws with 1:36 to go in the opening quarter.
But the visitors chipped away steadily at the deficit through the second quarter and a 9-0 run that spanned the half-time interval made it 45-44 on Janos Ellingsfeld's put-back from Akos Kovacs' missed three-pointer.
That set up a tense second half with Krasnye Krylia keeping their noses in front, if barely, bar one brief moment when the scores were levelled at 57-57.
A three from Gergely Kortelyesi made it 74-73 with 66 seconds left, but Nichols answered from long-range 46 ticks from time and Yury Vasiliev iced it from the free-throw line.
Nichols led Krasnye Krylia with 20 points while Ponkrashov and Julian Wright added 16 each, with Wright also collecting 14 rebounds.
Jarrod Jones had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the visitors, with Kovacs scoring 14.
Krasnye Krylia head coach Sergey Bazarevich
"This game was not decisive for the group table, but we managed to motivate our players and they started well, opening a 20-point lead. Nevertheless I would not say that Atomeromu is not a strong team. All teams in the EuroChallenge are strong, and we saw proof of that today. We missed a number of foreign players today due to injuries, and once again our rotation was limited. These factors influenced the way the game went, but I am glad that we won and finished the year in good spirits."
Krasnye Krylia forward Demetris Nichols
"We try to motivate ourselves for every game, and come on to the court to make our fans happy. I am glad with today's win and with the young players trying to show what they are capable of. I hope after the New Year we will get even better as a team."
Atomeromu head coach Branislav Dzunic
"I have to admit that the home team played better. They deserved this win. At the same time, we made some mistakes and not everything we did was good. Maybe if we knew that not all of the players of our opponent are to play, we would have made changes. Anyway, our team was trying hard and did it's best. Participating in the EuroChallenge is a great experience for us."
Atomeromu guard Akos Kovacs
"We played well, while at the same time cannot be satisfied with the result. We knew we will face a strong opponent. We have great team chemistry, and that is why we can play well against any opponent. Of course experience we get in the EuroChallenge will be useful for us in the national championship."