BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Marton Bader fell one rebound short of a double-double in Szolnok's win over Sopron|
EuroChallenge quarter-finalists Szolnoki Olaj joined action in the Hungarian first division for the first time this season on Wednesday and made sure to leave a lasting impression on their debut.
In the inaugural game of the second stage of the domestic league season, Szolnok cruised 90-61 past Sopron at home.
Unlike Szolnok, Sopron had taken part in the first stage and had finished in fourth place in the standings.
Szolnok came out guns blazing to jump to a 30-15 lead already at the end of the first quarter and although reduced somewhat to 47-33 at the half-time buzzer, the hosts had little trouble in extending the gap after the break.
The guests never really stood a chance of posing a real threat, as Szolnok forced them to shoot only 34% from the floor and were also utterly dominant on the glass, out-rebounding Sopron 49-26.
Marton Bader came off the bench and collected a team-high 16 points and nine boards for Szolnok, while fellow big men Akos Keller and Peter Lorant finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the winners.
While the final outcome of the Wednesday clash was decided relatively early, the crowd at Tiszaligeti Sports Hall remained glued to their seats in order to observe two players in particular.
Former Szolnok glory Obie Trotter, who re-joined the club in the winter break but had not featured due to injury, came off the bench and made his first appearance at home in two years, after a testimonial appearance in last weekend's loss away at Buducnost Podgorica in the ABA Αdriatic league.
During his limited time on the court on Wednesday, the veteran American fired two shots that did not drop in but received a standing ovation from fans in the Tiszaligeti arena stands regardless at the end.
Meanwhile fellow point guard Radenko Pilcevic, who is an entirely new addition to the Szolnok roster, was a starter on Wednesday and made more than a hopeful debut as he finished with 11 points and eight assists.
Both Trotter and Pilcevic are eligible to play for Szolnok in the EuroChallenge play-off series against Tartu University Rock and will fill the gap left in the Hungarian team after the departure of Willie Warren, who joined Italian side Virtus Bologna this week.
Szolnok will play one more home game, on Friday against Cedevita Zagreb in Adriatic league action, before departing for Estonia to take on Tartu in Game 1 of their series on Tuesday.
|Lance Harris top-scored for Ekaterinburg with 22 points|
Ural Ekaterinburg, who are preparing for a play-off series against fellow Russian side Triumph Lyubertsy in the EuroChallenge, fell 84-83 to a direct competitor in the domestic Superleague.
The Ekaterinburg side travelled to Novosibirsk and despite the fact they started off fantastically against their hosts, taking an early 12-point lead, they suffered a sharp drop either side of the half-time interval.
Novosibirsk took advantage to turn the tables and by the time Ural recovered their early form, the hosts had already claimed a six-point lead going into the final frame.
Ekaterinburg still pushed hard in the clutch and managed to take the clash down to the final seconds, but ultimately Novosibirsk's superiority on the glass (rebounds 39-26) proved crucial and the hosts celebrated the narrow win.
Lance Harris finished with a game-high 22 points for Ekaterinburg in defeat, while Aaron McGhee collected 18 points and six boards and Anton Glazunov had 12 points and four assists in losing efforts.
Ekaterinburg have now dropped to 14-5 in the Superleague standings but are still in fourth place, three wins clear of fifth-placed Dynamo Moscow and Spartak Vladivostok, while Novosibirsk have improved to 16-7.