20 September, 2018
01 May, 2019
2 Dominique Archie (VARES), 4 Aleksa Avramovic (VARES)
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Heart-breakers: Varese stun Sassari in Italian derby; Wurzburg outlast Karsiyaka in OT

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) – The unwavering Pallacanestro Varese closed out the calendar year in the FIBA Europe Cup with a gritty come-from-behind win in the Italian derby against Dinamo Sassari, beating their Group K rivals 90-87 after erasing a 26-point turnaround on the road in Sardinia.

The visitors from Lombardy trailed by as many as 23 points in the third quarter, but worked their way back into the game and went on to outscore the home side 27-10 in the final stanza, with Tyler Cain providing the go-ahead bucket with less than a minute on the clock and Thomas Scrubb sealing the deal.

"I am very happy for this win. It was a tough game against a very talented team in Sassari. They played very well in the first half, but my team stuck together and remained confident. We found good looks to come back into the game and played the last quarter very well," Varese head coach Attilio Caja said after the game.

Scrubb finished with a game-high 19 points for Varese, Ronald Moore and Aleksa Avramovic scored 14 points apiece, while Dominique Archie chipped in with 13 points.

"We played a great game for 25 minutes," Dinamo playcaller Vincenzo Esposito offered. "Then, something inexplicable happened. We missed some shots and Varese played tough defense and took good shots. We reacted with the wrong attitude, playing selfishly and not as a team."

Jaime Smith and Dyshawn Pierre played key roles for Dinamo with 19 and 15 points, respectively, but that was of little consolation for the heart-broken Sassari fans, who witnessed a 67-44 advantage vanish in the last quarter and a half.

In the other Group K contest, Donar Groningen turned on the afterburners in the second half to run away with a 78-56 victory against Petrolina AEK behind another solid 16-point performance from Lance Jeter.

There was even more drama in Group I, with s.Oliver Wurzburg outlasting Pinar Karsiyka 96-87 in overtime and Z Mobile Prishtina scoring their first win of the Second Round against the visiting Szolnoki Olaj.

Although they did not need as big of a comeback as Varese, the Denis Wucherer-coached Wurzburg side also showed determination and erased a seven-point gap down the stretch in Izmir to stay perfect in the table.

Jordan Hulls registered his best game of the season with a 27-point performance, Xavier Cooks double-doubled with 18 points and 16 rebounds, while Cameron Wells dished out 12 assists and was responsible for the game-tying bucket at the end of regulation.

"That was a big win for us. We were up for most of the game, then they made a pretty nice run in the fourth quarter with all those threes they were hitting. I was proud of our guys because we kept cool and made some big plays at the end. It was a lot of fun, there was a good atmosphere, Karsiyaka has amazing fans. That is an important win for us in the FIBA Europe Cup and also for our confidence. I think we showed a lot of good things tonight," Wurzburg guard Skyler Bowlin spoke after the dramatic finish.

Meanwhile, Khalid Boukichou and Dardan Berisha got the job done for Z Mobile Prishtina by combining for 35 points in an 81-76 win against the Strahinja Milosevic-led Szolnoki Olaj.

Boukichou had a team-high 18 points for the hosts, Berisha filled the boxscore with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and a pair of steals, while Milosevic amassed 24 points and tied the FIBA Europe Cup all-time record with 19 rebounds.

In Group L, Bakken Bears stayed perfect in the competition and hit the century mark for the seventh time this season in a 104-89 win against Kataja Basket in Finland, while Avtodor Saratov had no trouble with ZZ Leiden, cruising to a 97-72 victory on the road in the Netherlands.

Elsewhere, Ironi Ness Ziona climbed to the top of Group J with a 100-73 victory over Balkan Botevgrad, as Alba Fehervar stunned Lukoil Levski with an 89-56 blowout in Hungary.