The ULEB Cup will keep playing in Russia after Ural Great of Perm advanced to the second round Tuesday with a resounding 86-61 home win over Snaidero Udine, also a qualifier from Group A. Ural won with scoring balance: Eddie Shannon had 17 points, Chris Anstey 15, Martin Muursepp, Stefan Nadjfeji and Valentin Kubrakov 14 each as the Russian champs took over the game early. Both teams finished 5-5, Ural taking third place and Udine fourth. The loser in all the tie-breaks is Telekom Baskets Bonn, which was eliminated when Ural won. Udine tried to resist the great intensity of its Russian hosts, but the guests had nothing more to ask more of their trip to Perm than a possible move up in place. Thus, only big men Jeff Stern, with 14 points, Demetrius Alexander (12) and Mikhail Mikhailov (10) were able to score in double digits. Both teams will learn about their future opponent during a second-round draw to be held on Wednesday.
Ural Great went for the throat early, staking a quick 7-0 lead right after tipoff. Udine tried to stay in touch, and thanks to Stern was able to respond to the hits received by the hosts. Koubrakov and Nadjfeji were the catalysts for Ural. The former scored 11 of his points in the first half, the latter 10, figures that no perimeter player from Udine would reach by the end of the gaem. With Muursepp giving excellent contributions as well, Ural led by 5 points lead after the first quarter, 21-16. Shannon joined the fun in the second quarter, scoring and setting up his teammates such that Ural made 18 of 29 two-pointers (62%) before halftime. That accuracy meant a huge 20-point gap, 51-31, going into the lockerroom. With Udine playing only for pride, Ural Great had already virtually closed the game after two quarters.
In the second half, a big rebounding lead (35-24 at game's end) gave the hosts the chance to control the tempo of the game and manage the lead. Udine made an attempt to come back with 3 minutes left in the third period, when Michele Mian scored the lay up that fixed the score at 61-48. But Anstey and Shannon then retook charge of the affair, and Ural made a 7-2 run to close the quarter with safe and very solid lead of 68-50. That was too much for Udine to overcome in the last quarter, even if it had been playing for its life, which it wasn't. So the comeback never came and the fans spent the quarter celebrating the qualification to the next round and the promise of at leaste one other ULEB Cup night in Perm during February.
Friday, January 17, 2003