26 September, 2016
30 April, 2017
17 Suleiman Braimoh (BC Enisey) (photo: Erwin Otten)
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Domestic round-up: Enisey lock up Tsmoki in Siberian frost

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) – Most teams participating in the FIBA Europe Cup will have a chance for some off-time during the soon-to-come winter break but, for the time being, the domestic basketball action continued full steam ahead.

Most noticeably, the in-form Enisey Krasnoyarsk defeated fellow VTB League side Tsmoki Minsk in frosty Siberia, Gaziantep took defending Turkish Basketball Super League champions Fenerbahce Istanbul to overtime, while the already-eliminated BC Tartu side fell short to BC Kalev/Cramo in the Estonian Cup Final.

Enisey get the better of Tsmoki in VTB League

There wasn't much of a contest in the VTB League clash between the two FIBA Europe Cup sides, as Enisey overpowered the visiting Tsmoki at home in Krasnoyarsk and consequently moved up a couple of spots in the league standings.

Now in seventh place with a 5-5 record, the Enisey side ran away to a double-digit lead already in the opening quarter and went on to inscribe a decisive 88-70 victory marked by the return of big man Frank Elegar, who had spent the last couple of weeks sidelined with a quad injury.

"I'm very happy with the result and the quality of our defence in stretches," explained Enisey play-caller Oleg Okulov, expressing his satisfaction. "Players always make some mistakes and you can't go through an entire game without making some, but I'm happy with the effort on defence and the desire to win. The guys heard what they need to do and went out and did it."

Suleiman Braimoh finished with a game-high 21 points and added 5 rebounds, Elegar collected 13 points and 8 boards in his first game back, while Vladislav Trushkin chipped in with 12 points and 8 rebounds.

The finally complete Enisey frontcourt dominated the glass, outrebounding the Minsk side 46-29 in what proved to be a completely one-sided battle in the painted area.

Aliaskandr Kudrautsau was the lone bright spot for the guests, as the 36-year-old veteran guard finished the game with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and dished out 6 assists, but Tsmoki coach Igor Griszczuk was unhappy with the overall play of his team.

"We were sleepwalking today. It's tough to play when you lose the rebounding battle and have such a low free-throw percentage. Generally, it's always tough in Krasnoyarsk because of the time difference," the Belorussian specialist told the press after the game.

It was the second win in a row for Enisey and already the third consecutive loss for Tsmoki who are currently ninth with a 3-7 mark, but could drop a few more places if the lower ranked teams pick up wins in the games they have in hand.

Close but no cigar against Fenerbahce for Gaziantep

An inspired Gaziantep performance nearly had the defending Turkish champions Fenerbahce Istanbul on the ropes, but the upset escaped the FIBA Europe Cup participants, with Kostas Sloukas masterminding the breakaway for the away team in the extra period.

Still recovering from a slow start in the Turkish BSL league, the Gaziantep side were surprisingly the dominant team in the beginning of the contest, but ran out steam down the stretch, picking up a 102-98 defeat down the stretch, as Davon Jefferson and Marcus Denmon both fouled out.

Jefferson finished the game with a team-high 25 points and 7 rebounds, Andy Rautins collected 17 points, while Denmon went 4-of-9 from the field for 14 points and 5 assists.

The hosts started enjoyed the more positive start, taking a 16-7 lead five minutes into the game and led by as many as 13 points in the first half. However, the Istanbul powerhouse covered the difference in no time and snuck ahead by a couple of points at the halftime break.

Gaziantep regained the advantage after the intermission and were up 72-68 heading into the final period after a couple of outside shots by Jure Balazic and Rautins, but the winner did not become clear in regulation.

"It was quite a game for the spectators. I think we deserved to win, but congratulations to Fenerbahce who played smarter than us. We fought well, but they attempted 15 free throws in the final quarter alone," said Gaziantep's head coach Stefanos Dedas after the game.

Having collected 26 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, it was Fenerbahce guard Sloukas who tipped the scales for the visitors in overtime with a couple of timely stops and subsequent baskets in the extra period.

Fenerbahce are third in the Turkish BSL with a 9-2 record, while Gaziantep are third from the bottom having won three games and suffered eight losses in a disappointing first part of the season.

Tartu cannot deliver in Estonian Cup Final

After a premature end of their FIBA Europe Cup campaign, Tartu had a shot at redemption on the home front, but failed to capitalise in the Estonian Cup Final where they were bested by Kalev/Cramo for the second year in a row.

In a contest between the two biggest foes in Estonian basketball, the Tallinn side held on to triumph in a 71-66 thriller that saw Tartu nearly erased a 24-point deficit in the second half of the game.

A sloppy start left Gert Kullamae's side chasing shadows after falling behind 21-7 in the first quarter. Things then got worse before they started getting better, as Kalev/Cramo followed up a dominant opening period with a 19-9 run to push the difference to 40-16 with a couple of minutes before the halftime break.

After making only 7-of-35 from the field in the first two quarters, Tartu came back to life in the third period, reducing the deficit to a 56-46 before the start of the final frame.

Following baskets by Mandell Thomas and Janari Joesaar, Kalev/Cramo's lead dried up to just five points within the next couple of minutes and the game got as close as three points before the Tallinn side put out the fire.

"The first half was painful. We never had a good chance after falling behind by 24 points. With a team like Kalev, you have to play well for 40 minutes," said Tartu play-caller Kullamae.

Meanwhile, his counterpart Alar Varrak had nothing but praise for his players for a terrific job in the first half, but acknowledged there is room for improvement: "We did a super job, especially on defence. Everything operated perfectly. Unfortunately, at times this year we just stop playing. If you let the momentum swing the other way, life becomes difficult."

Demonte Harper collected a team-high 16 points and 9 rebounds for the winners and Cedric Simmons chipped in with 13, while Mandell Thomas and Dominykas Milka finished with 19 and 15 points respectively for Tartu.