Sodertalje Kings lord over short-handed Mures; get first win in Group K
SODERTALJE (FIBA Europe Cup) - Sodertalje Kings finally opened up their win tally in the FIBA Europe Cup Second Round, lording over a severely short-handed Mures side 88-68 in a Group K match-up between two previously winless teams.
Having arrived to Sweden without the injured Goran Martinic and Andrew Barham, as well as Alhaji Mohammed, who is out due to personal reasons, the Targu Mures club couldn't keep up with the red-hot shooting of Sodertalje and dropped to 0-3 in the standings.
Meanwhile, the bounce-back victory after two losses to begin the Second Round gave the third-placed Kings, who now have a 1-2 mark, newfound hope, as they improved their positions in the hunt for a place in the Round of 16.
Turning Point: In spite of playing severely short-handed, Mures had a positive start to the game and led 16-11 with four minutes remaining in the opening quarter after a pair of free throws by Latvian forward Ernests Kalve. However, a timeout and a few harsh words by coach Vedran Bosnic was all it took for Sodertalje to turn things around.
For the next five minutes, the hosts kept the Romanian side scoreless and solid defensive play continued in the second quarter, as Toni Bizaca single-handedly took care of business on the other end of the floor, as the Kings swiftly turned a five-point deficit into a 31-16 lead.
Game Hero: The competition's leading scorer Bizaca made his mark felt right from the get-go, collecting 13 first-quarter points en route to a game-high 23 for the Kings. The 34-year-old big man from Croatia made 7-of-12 of his attempts from the field and added 4 rebounds and 2 assists in another spectacular personal display in the competition.
Stats Don't Lie: The long-range shooting was on point for Sodertalje, with the Kings going 14-of-22 from three-point range for a stellar 64% form beyond the arc. If it wasn't for the red-hot shooting, the Swedish club could have been in for a tough evening, having turned the ball over a team season-high 25 times, which was only two shy of the worst mark in the season set by KB Peja.
The Bottom Line: Having got their first win in Group K, Sodertalje Kings got right back in the chase for a Round of 16 ticket. Although group leaders Elan Chalon and Gaziantep already have two wins apiece before their head-to-head clash on Wednesday, a couple of positive results in the next two games against these clubs could spring the Swedish club even higher up in the table.
They Said: "When they are defending me from far out they can not help inside – we used it with our bigger player and others who penetrated. I do not need to score every time, that is not what we are aiming for. I would lie if I said that we are completely satisfied. It was a nice victory, but we had too many tournovers. If we want to compete for the championship, this is one of the aspects we have to improve on." - Toni Bizaca, Sodertalje Kings.