|Chris Owens, seen here playing for BC Donetsk, was the star for Team TEHO Sport Kotka, ending with 27 points and eight rebounds|
Team TEHO Sport Kotka pulled away at the end to take a 75-71 victory over Reggio Emilia to begin their EuroChallenge campaign in a winning frame of mind.
Having trailed for almost the entire first half, the hosts burst into an 11-point lead at the start of the third quarter, only to blow it just as quickly.
The teams were tied 63 with four minutes to go, but six quick points put the hosts in control and they held off Reggio at the finish.
The visitors had the best of the first half, but their lead was rarely comfortable, never growing bigger than the 25-18 advantage they held early in the second quarter after Michele Antonutti sank a three-pointer.
Kotka finished the second quarter on a 10-2 run, capped by a Ryan McDade dunk, to lead 37-32 at half-time and they scored the first six points of the third quarter to go up 43-32 on Timo Heinonen free throws.
But the teams were soon tied once more thanks to a 14-3 Reggio run in which James White saw points, including a big three-pointer.
It stayed neck-and-neck until late in the fourth quarter when a three from Chris Owens made it 69-63.
When Greg Brunner hit a lay-up with 39 seconds left, Reggio were back in touch, trailing 71-67 and they began to foul to keep time on the clock.
Sharaud Curry nailed a pair from the line and then, after a costly turnover from Ariel Filloy, Owens did likewise to make it 75-67 with 30 seconds left, the gap too big for Reggio to close.
Owens finished with 27 points and eight rebounds for Kotka, with Curry adding 13 and seven assists.
White had 19 points for Reggio with Brunner scoring 18 with 12 boards.
Reggiano Emilia Player Greg Brunner
"We knew we would face a tough playing team. The home team got a good rhythm. We tried to get back into the game but the home team kept their heads. I was very impressed with Chris Owens' game. For a 34-year old player I didn't know that a guy that age can still jump that high. He played very hard but fair."
Reggiano Emilia Head coach Massimiliano Menetti
"I'm disappointed like always after a defeat. First of all I would like to thank the home team's management for great hospitality. Secondly, the home team were better than us for the whole 40 minutes. We are still missing our starting point guard but it wasn't the reason for this loss. The home team were tougher than us. The key fact for the win was details, like Troy Bell's technical foul in the fourth quarter."
Team Teho Sport Players Chris Owens
"It was fun to wrestle with Greg Brunner. He's a very good post player and plays extremely hard. The key fact for our win was rebounds and our toughness."
Team Teho Sport Head Coach Sami Toiviainen
"We had an 11-point lead and then our opponent started to play typical European basketball: they started to play ball inside and scoring from the paint. We managed to find a cure for stopping their scoring. I do agree with my colleague (Menetti) that details made the difference, like Michael Pounds' defence on Bell or Sharaud Curry's leadership against hard defence. Although the star of this game was definitely Chris Owens.