|10 March 2014|
|Augustas Peciukevicius and fellow Lithuanian Vilmantas Dilys are paving the way for Tartu Rock into the semi-finals of the BBL Baltic league|
Tartu University Rock, Szolnoki Olaj and Triumph Lyubertsy will go into Tuesday's Game 1 of the EuroChallenge quarter-final pla-offs with renewed confidence after receiving injections of morale at the weekend.
The trio were the only quarter-finalists to emerge victorious from their battles in domestic or regional competition and all three clinched wins of particular significance, for different reasons.
Tartu have put one foot in the semi-finals of the BBL Baltic league, thanks to their 77-64 win at home in the first game of their best-of-three series with Pieno zvaigzdes.
The Estonians started pulling away from their guests midway through the second frame, as with the scores tied at 27, Augustas Peciukevicius and Vilmantas Dilys instigated a 7-0 run that enabled Tartu to reach the half-time break with a 38-32 lead.
Not content with this fragile advantage, the hosts used an 8-0 run at the start of the third quarter to bring the gap to double digits for the first time in the clash and never looked back, as their Lithuanian visitors did not manage to reduce again to less than nine points until the final buzzer.
Peciukevicius and Dilys paved the way for the winners with 17 points each, the latter also bringing down 14 rebounds to complete a double-double display.
Tanel Kurbas, who finished with 11 points, was the third Tartu player to score in double digits.
The second game of the series takes place in Lithuania on 21 March, after Tartu will have completed their efforts in the EuroChallege play-offs.
Tartu play host to Szolnoki Olaj on Tuesday, in Game 1 of their EuroChallenge quarter-final series, with the Hungarians also feeling very good about themselves right now.
Szolnok have nothing to fight for in the remaining weeks of action in the ABA Adriatic league Regular Season, yet on Friday they delivered possibly their best performance this season and downed second-placed Cedevita Zagreb, 68-67 at home.
Following 40 minutes of a very close to call battle, David Vojvoda, with a lay-up, scored the game-winner for the Hungarian side in the dying seconds, after Miro Bilan had put Cedevita ahead 67-66 from the foul line.
Big man Peter Lorant finished with a team-high 14 points for Szolnok, Justin Holiday picked up a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards while Vojvoda and Miljan Rakic also finished with 10 points.
Radenko Pilcevic, the point guard who was recruited to replace Willie Warren at the point guard spot did not feature in the game, as he is not eligible to play in the Adriatic league, which gives even higher value to Szolnoki's win, despite the fact the result has no real impact on the Hungarian side's position in the Adriatic league standings.
Meanwhile Triumph Lyubersty secured third spot in Group B of the VTB United league regular season and punched their ticket to the play-offs of the competition, courtesy of an 82-74 win at home over Azovmash Mariupol.
|Big man Péter Lóránt came up with a team-high 14 points in Szolnoki Olaj's win over ABA Adriatic league favourites Cedevita Zagreb|
The hosts made the most of a fantastic offensive display at the start of the game and jumped to a 51-37 lead by the half-time buzzer, a cushion that proved enough to withstand Azovmash's assaults in the second half.
Courdon Higgins once again led all Triumph scorers with 17 points, Milovan Rakovic had 15 points and eight rebounds, Evgeny Voronov chipped in with 14 points and Kyle Landry added 13 points and eight rebounds.
WEEKEND WOES FOR FOUR QUARTER-FINALISTS
Triumph are travelling to Ekaterinburg, to take on fellow Russian side Ural in Game 1 of the EuroChallenge quarter-final play-offs on Tuesday.
Ekaterinburg fell victims of an upset at the weekend in Superleague action, as they fell 75-74 on the road to a mid-table team like AltajBasket.
Lance Harris finished with a game-high 27 points and Anton Glazunov added 20 points in losing efforts for Ekateriburg.
Royal Hali Gaziantep suffered an even more surprising defeat at the weekend though, in Turkish BEKO TBL action.
The EuroChallenge quarter-finalists lost at home, 74-73 to second-from-bottom Torku Konya Selçuk Üniversity, following a very eventful encounter.
Gaziantep, who have filed a complaint with the TBL for incidents that took place during the game and they consider irregular, had entered the final quarter riding a 61-54 lead.
However the hosts were out-rebounded 32-25 and also committed 16 turnovers on the night, while the guests' shooting percentages increased dramatically in the clutch.
Domen Lorbek and Dejan Borovnjak finished with 16 points apiece in losing efforts for Gazientep.
On Saturday meanwhile, Tsmoki Minsk suffered a heavy 99-69 loss away at Russian powerhouse Khimki in VTB league action, in what was their first game without the sidelined-through-injury frontcourt duo of Vincent Hunter and Keith Benson.
Tyrone Brazelton had 16 points and new recruit Jason Washburn finished with 10 points and nine rebounds in his debut for Minsk.
The seventh EuroChallenge quarter-finalist to be involved in domestic league action at the weekend were Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia, and they fell 82-78 to league leaders EA7 Emporio Armani Milano at home.
Reggio Emilia paid for a lukewarm start to the game that found them trailing by 17 points, 49-32, at the half-time buzzer.
The hosts returned from the locker rooms looking like a different team and threw everything at their guests to come as close as three points in the final minutes, but Milano managed to maintain the lead until the end.
Rimantas Kaukenas finished with 17 points, Andrea Cinciarini added 16 points and James White had 15 points for Reggio Emilia in defeat.