Ural Great is back on track! With 7,000 fans pushing for them in Perm, the Russian champions shook off the worst week in club history by registering a strong 85-66 Group D victory over dangerous Cibona Zagrab. As such, Ural Great's record climbs to 3-1, which will be good enough to keep sharing first place in the group. Valeri Daineko's scoring slump ended with 28 points as Ural rocketed ahead in the second quarter with a 35-19 advantage. Mikhail Mikhailov added 19 points for the winners, Ruslan Avleev 11 and Sergei Panov 10. Cibona, who led 16-17 after the first quarter, got 21 points out of Matej Mamic and 15 from center Aleksandar Okunsky, but was not a threat as the game progessed. Cibona drops to 2-2 in the standings.
As expected with the presence of their 7,000 fans, Ural Great started the game great. Two three-pointers, by Vasili Karassev and Avleev, and a great blocked shot by Daineko set the pace as the home team took over with an 8-2 lead after 4 minutes. Cibona answered with some stronger defense, however, and Ural Great collapsed. Mamic started to go to work inside, but a 9-17 run over the final 6 minutes resulted in a 17-19 lead for the visitors after one quarter. In the second period, the guests pushed that lead as high as 18-23 before help came from the Ural bench in the persons of Sergei Panov and new signee Anthony Bowie. The entrance of the two veterans turned the game on its head, at least as far as Cibona was concerned. From the 16th to the 19th minute, Ural Great scored with abandon, making a 15-3 run that left Cibona reeling. Another 17-8 run, with Daineko scoring at will, finished off the half with Ural in full control at 49-34. Unfortunately for the visitors, Cibona didn¿t have Panov or Bowie coming off its bench. The Croatian champs didn¿t manage to get close enough after halftime to have a chance to save the game. The greatest comeback came with 5 minutes to go, when Mamic again brought them within 11, at 72-61. After being up by 20 at the end of three quarters, Ural Great had relaxed but not enough to let the win pass away, or for 7,000 basketball nuts in Perm to be disappointed.
Wednesday, October 31, 2001