Estonian basketball team BC Kalev/Cramo won its FIBA Europe Cup semi-finals first leg encounter with Cholet Basket (France) 80:73, at home in Tallinn Wednesday.
Kalev/Cramo had made Estonian basketball history by defeating Bamberg in the quarter finals, and become the first Estonian team to progress to the semi-finals in the FIBA cup.
The score-line by quarter was: 17:14, 18:17, 22:24, 23:18, ERR's Sport portal reports, and the victory will be followed by the second leg in Cholet, in western France, on April 5.
Power forward Hugo Toom said post-match that: "You always have to be satisfied with a victory/…/ The emotion of victory is what helped us in our second game against Bamberg in the previous round, so this win is essential."
Small forward Artur Konontšuk said: "The crowd helped a lot. In terms of our game, everything starts in defense."
"We are the kind of team that puts a lot of pressure on opponents, and if we get the ball when on defense, then the offense starts to materialize," Konontšuk added.
Kalev took an early 11:2 lead by the third minute of the opening quarter at the Kalev Sports Hall, and while the visitors started to pull back, a long shot from power forward Kregor Hermet spoiled Cholet's momentum, and Kalev/Cramo ended the quarter ahead 17:14.
The second quarter was closer as, while Kalev/Cramo were 11 points ahead three minutes before time, Cholet took 12 more points with the hosts only answering with five. This was still enough to maintain a lead of 35.31 going into half-time.
In the third quarter, Cholet started strongly and took a brief lead, but long shots by Konontšuk and U.S. player Wesley van Beck meant Kalev closed the quarter 57:55 up, while some accurate shooting at the beginning of the final quarter meant the hosts kept their momentum up even as Cholet continued to battle hard, taking a 80:73 victory at the final siren.
Shooting guard Van Beck was top scorer for the hosts with 19 points, followed by Alterique Gilbert (U.S., point guard, 12 points), Konontšuk (11 points), power forward Kristjan Kitsing (nine) Latvian center Martins Meiers (eight) plus eight from Hugo Toom as well.
The second leg takes place on April 5, in Cholet. Maine-et-Loire.
In the first leg of the other s FIBA Europe Cup semi-final, Anwil Wloclawek (Poland) won 90:71 over Kauhajoki Karhu Basket (Finland).
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Henrik Laever