Spanish club UCAM Murcia began the week on a high note on Monday. They edged out Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 73-70 to claim the Torneo EncestaRias. It is just one of the many pre-season tournaments being played out over the coming weeks as teams warm-up for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
The game was close and both teams played hard, showing some of that hustle you would expect to see from a regular season game. The Baskonian club seized the initiative early on and pushed on for a seven-point lead in the first quarter. UCAM Murcia quickly battled back and ended the frame down by just one point, 20-21.
Both teams amped up their defensive intensity in the second period as action turned into a more of a grind. They kept each other in check and neither team was able to jump to a massive lead. Laboral Kutxa still held on to their slim advantage heading into halftime, 37-38.
After the break was when the game shifted on the side of UCAM Murcia. Some back-to-back baskets led to a run and just like that, UCAM Murcia carved out a lead thanks to Ovie Soko sparking some life into their offense. Not to be outdone, Laboral Kutxa fought back in the fourth period, but UCAM Murcia’s 10-point lead in the final minutes was too big of a hurdle for them to scale. And with that, UCAM Murcia is able to hold on for the win, the trophy, and the title.
Ovie Soko paced UCAM Murcia with 14 points. Trevor Cooney finished with a game-high 16 points to lead Laboral Kutxa, and Rodrigue Beaubois added 14 points of his own.