Avellino hold on to slender lead after Bakken Bears comeback
AVELLINO (FIBA Europe Cup) - There was little trace of Sidigas Scandone Avellino's dominance in the final score of the first Semi-Finals game against Bakken Bears after the Danish side kept themselves in the tie with a strong finish to the fourth quarter.
Having led by as many as 14 points in the second half, the Jason Rich-led Avellino had to settle for a 75-72 win, which will give them only a marginal edge ahead of the second game in Aarhus.
Turning Point: It was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel for Bakken Bears with them trialing 72-60 with 4:35 left in the final quarter, but Michel Diouf and Darko Jukic knocked down back-to-back triples to spark a 12-2 run that put the Danes back on relatively solid ground.
Game Hero: While they did not get the margin of victory they desired, a big offensive performance by Jason Rich proved to be enough to put Avellino on top after the first 40 minutes in the tie. The guard was the leading scorer of the game with 28 points after going 10-of-19 from the field and knocking down 5 triples. He also added 8 rebounds, 4 assists and a pair of steals.
Stats Don't Lie: During the time Avellino five-man Kyrylo Fesenko was on the floor, the home side outscored Bakken Bears by double figures, +10. The Ukrainian center played just 22 minutes though, scoring 11 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and handing out 4 blocks.
Bottom Line: Although it is the first time that Bakken Bears do not hold an advantage after the first leg in the Play-Offs this year, coming away with a manageable three-point deficit from Italy will be a satisfactory result for the Danish side who sold out their home game in a matter of hours.
They Said: "It was a hard-fought game and I was very pleased that we were able to come back in the end. I think Avellino was really on fire, closing the first half, they hit maybe five or six threes in a row which gave them a good lead. We were able to close their three-pointers down and we came close to winning the game." – Bakken Bears guard Adama Darboe
"I was kind of nervous the way the game unfolded here. I look at the stats and I see that despite missing the three to tie the game, we won the fourth quarter 20-10. I think our guys came together and were really, really aggressive. It's a fairy tale and we're still living it." – Bakken Bears head coach Steffen Wich
"It was a good game. It was a tough game. I wasn't playing very good defense today. I'm not very happy about how I defended against Diouf. He had a crazy game. I think we lost our focus towards the end, took a few bad shots and didn't have everything we had in defense. So they closed the gap. I'm not very happy but it's a win." – Sidigas Avellino center Kyrylo Fesenko
"We quite regret to not have won the game by 8 or 10 points. We dominated almost the entire match against a very talented and athletic team like Bakken Bears. We absolutely must find a solution for Diouf's great offensive potential. Unfortunately, our energy decreased in the last 10 minutes and we lost our concentration a little bit. We'll try with all our strength and heart to reach the FIBA Europe Cup final in Denmark next Wednesday." - Sidigas Avellino head coach Stefano Sacripanti