The Eurochallenge Final Four in Bologna Italy has passed the semifinal stage and will now conclude with the competition final on April 27th. The Final teams have been set as Triumph Lyubertsy and Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia booked their places in the season ending showpiece. While the Eurochallege title is now beyond them, Szolnoki Olaj and Royal Hali Gaziantep will play in the 3rd/4th place game.
A fantastic Italian crowd created a hearty atmosphere for the semifinals and the teams obliged the legions of Basketball lovers by producing the goods on the court.
Szolnoki Olaj vs. Triumph Lyubertsy, 59-61
The Olaj players signaled their intentions from the tip-off and went through five minutes with a lead of 9-5 lead built by dominating the board. Indeed, the Hungarian team collected all of the rebounds in the opening five minutes, leaving Triumph empty from the glass. A time out allowed Lyubertsy to regroup, and the team duly responded with two triples that made the score 14-13 at the end of 10 minutes. Szolnoki had restricted Triumph early on, especially stopping the Russian team from transition and heading down the floor at pace. That changed for the first time early in the second frame as Lyubertsy started to find its game. Triumph took the lead for the first time and led down to the buzzer, holding on for a 28-31 lead at halftime. The game switched again at the start of third stanza as Olaj once again took the upper hand and even carved out a five point advantage at 38-33. As 30 minutes arrived on the clock, the teams had tied and were locked at 43 points apiece. Szolnoki looked to have the game won when the team claimed an 11-2 run in the final frame of the contest. However, Lyubertsy managed to comeback and snatched a close win to secure a berth in the Eurochallenge final.
Kyle Landry picked up 18 points in the winning effort, while Cory Higgins had 12 points and Milovan Rakovic.
Justin Holiday led Olaj with 16 points and was followed by Strahinja Milosevic with an 11 points and 11 rebounds double-double.
Reggio Emilia vs. Royal Hali Gaziantep, 66-55
Italian club Emilia swept to victory over Gaziantep and cruised into the Eurochallenge final. Reggio went toe to toe with the best defense in this season´s competition and actually out defended Turkish club Gaziantep. The Italians exploded from the tip-off and managed to pick up a hugely commanding 17-6 win midway through the first quarter. Credit must go to Royal Hali as the team responded with a 10-2 run that put the score at 19-16 after the first quarter. The Turkish team finally got defensively sound and tied the game at 22-22 with minutes left in the first half, but Reggio responded and collected a 33-28 lead at the buzzer. Gaziantep´s fight had been taken and Emilia pulled away during the third quarter and outscored the Turkish team by 21 points to 15 to make the score 54-43 after 30 minutes. The Italians continued to impress as the game went on and cruised through the fourth stanza to win the game.
Ojars Silins scored a game high 14 points for Reggio Emilia and Andrea Cinciari scored 13 points and took 12 rebounds.
Dejan Borovnjak matched the 14 points for the game high score, while also collecting 7 rebounds.