|Dmitrii Arteshin top-scored for Ural Ekaterinburg in their last Group game|
Ural Ekaterinburg underlined their dominance of Group L in the EuroChallenge with a 66-61 victory over Team TEHO Sport Kotka.
Ekaterinburg were already assured of top spot before tip-off, but kept their focus to secure a 5-1 record in the group.
They led almost from start to finish, but had to hold off a late rally from the visitors to secure the win.
Dmitrii Nikolaev gave Ekaterinburg a 59-51 lead with a little over five minutes to go, but Kotka replied with back-to-back jumpers from Aleksi Akpaso and Joonas Lehtoranta, and when Samuli Vanttaja hit a three-pointer with 2:26 to go, it was a one-possession game at 63-60.
Anton Glazunov missed a three-point attempt for Ekaterinburg but Kotka could not take advantage as Lehtoranta and Ryan Ayers came up empty before Lehtoranta turned it over and Alexander Korchagin punished him with a three.
That put the hosts up by six with 56 seconds left, and after Jukka Matinen missed a three, Kotka's challenge faded away.
Arteshin led Ekaterinburg with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Fedor Kliuchnikov scored 11.
Matinen poured in 24 points for Kotka, with Lehtoranta adding 11. Vanttaja scored nine while pulling down 12 rebounds.
Aaron McGhee, Ekaterinburg's leading scorer in the competition this season, did not feature.
Ural Ekaterinburg Head Coach Oleg Okulov
"Today's match was good for us because we managed to win without players, who usually spend a lot of time on the court. Those players who don't usually play much, received plenty of opportunity to play. Although this game did not influence any results, we were successful in some moments, but some of them were not good. I'm satisfied with the game as a whole, a win is a win. Now the team will have some days off, and then we will have high intensity practices, and work at new combinations and link-ups, as well as our defence actions. I think it will be easier for us to play in the next EuroChallenge stage. All these days at our practices we only tried not to lose our playing onus.
"As for our participation in EuroChallenge - it's pleasant, that only two games have been lost. We suffered the first defeat in the very beginning, and I think we could have won this game too. We are more successful in the EuroChallenge this time than our previous season. A VTB League team will be our opponent in the quarter finals and it will become additional motivation for our players."
Ural Ekaterinburg Player Dmitriy Cheremnykh
"As a whole the game was good for us and I am happy that we won. Although recently we have played so many games and we didn't even have any emotions. Now we will have a break to recover. I can't say I have equally replaced Mc Ghee, but I did what I can. I tried to do my best, but in the end I felt tired. I will spend some days with my family - it's the best holiday for me."
Team TEHO Sport Kotka Head Coach Sami Toiviainen
"First of all I'd like to say thank you to the club - everything has been great. The game for sure must have been different, because Aaron Mc Ghee and Lance Harris didn't play, and from our side - Sharaud Curry. But it was a good chance for other players to show what they can do at this level. We spoke before the game - it was our last game, and we had to play hard, trying as hard as possible to win, but we lacked five points. Joonas Lehtoranta - he turned 20 today, and he can do more, he made a lot of shots, it was a good opportunity for those guys. I am satisfied with the way they played. Jukka Matinen had some pride to play in this game, and he scored well today."
Team TEHO Sport Kotka Player Jukka Matinen
"Like all other teams playing, we wanted to win this game. It was our last game in the EuroChallenge. As for me, I played well on offence, but as we lost the game, we should have done more on defence. Before coming to Ekaterinburg, we looked on the internet to see what it is like, we knew that it's a big city; the organisation is good, we feel well taken care of."