|Keith Benson Jr. delivered another well-rounded performance for Tsmoki Minsk|
Tsmoki Minsk have continued their EuroChallenge Group H winning streak, extending it to four games with a 94-75 win over Rilski Sportist, booking their Last 16 ticket in the process.
Built on an offensive effort that provided 28 first quarter points, the Belarusian hosts' winning streak never looked in any real threat of coming under fire - as they impressively passed the 20-point mark in each of the four quarters.
Whilst Rilski Sportist constantly looked to downtown for their scoring output, Tsmoki Minsk looked inside to do their damage.
The game plan of Tsmoki evidently paid bigger dividends as they outscored their guests 56-30 in the paint whilst out-rebounding them 44-21.
Meanwhile the outside shooting of Rilski faltered, with just 11 of 21 shots dropping.
Six Minsk players ended in double figures as Keith Benson Jr. led the charge, picking up 15 on five-for-six shooting, as well as collecting a steal, six rebounds and blocking three shots.
Evan Ravernel was the best of the visitors with 13 points.
Tsmoki Minsk Head Coach Donaldas Kairys
"We came prepared for the game and my team did everything what we worked on during the last few days. We won the game around the boards, which is not easy to do. The Bulgarian team has very good athletes, you all could see how aggressive they were attacking the rims. However, we were able to set a good tempo of the game, we fed our big guys under the rim and penetrated the paint. Today was probably the first game when we were able to keep it up till the end. This is a very important win for us. I'm very happy that today all 12 of our players played and that we won."
Tsmoki Minsk Player Pavel Ulyanko
"Today we had a good game, we scored a lot. We expected a better performance from our opponent, a more aggressive game. But we out-rebounded them, grabbed twice as many boards. With just 13 turnovers we played as a team and that all combined gave us such a good result. We made it to the Last 16, everybody is happy - our fans and especially us!"
Rilski Sportist Head Coach Rosen Barchovski
"First, congratulations to Tsmoki, they advance to the next round. They play in the VTB League and the EuroChallenge and it's not easy to prepare these games during the week. For sure they are a better team than us, with taller, more athletic and experienced players, so it's normal to win. I'm not satisfied with my players. Our team usually plays with a lot of energy and a lot of heart. If you see the statistics, they scored 94 points and took 44 rebounds and they put a lot of energy into the game, not like us, and that disappoints me. One other reason for today's result is that our team is completely new, we have nine players who are rookies, fresh out of college, they used to play a completely different basketball and they need time to adapt to the European style."
Rilski Sportist Player Evan Ravenel
"First of all, I am very disappointed with the way we played. We came to the game with a lack of focus and did not put enough fight into it. We were preparing very hard for this game, but did not come as a unit today. The team we played today is a very deep, athletic and tall team. They have players on the bench that come in as substitutions and raise the level of the game. They played as a team and capitalised on your mistakes, every turnover ended with points on the other end."