«Enisey» Krasnoyarsk, Russia vs. VEF Riga, Latvia
Krasnoyarsk thriller decided by video replay
In week four of the regular season, Russian Enisey pulled out a win at home over Latvian VEF, 96-93. The game only decided in an overtime, fortune smiled on Krasnoyarsk at the end of a bitterly contested game.
The solid Krasnoyarsk squad welcomed VTB United League old-timers from Riga, who last season missed the playoffs by only one game. VEF reasserted its ambitions with a good start this season, giving basketball fans hope for a hard-fought battle. The game fully lived up to expectations.
The Latvian champions boast last season’s top shooter, E.J. Rowland. The American expat played well, bringing his teammates along with him. Nonetheless, Vladislav Konovalov found an effective response. The Krasnoyarsk club favored team ball as 8 Enisey players scored at least once in the first half. Enisey’s multi-faceted style of play proved problematic for the Latvian defense. Their success on the offensive boards and ability to stop VEF from pushing the pace of the game allowed the home side to gradually nurse its lead. They headed to halftime leading by 12, 51-39.
Give credit where credit is due, the Riga club took back the initiative. Enisey couldn’t be faulted for desire, but at a certain point they found it very difficult to score. About the middle of the third quarter, the visitors cut the deficit to 5 points. Konovalov called a time-out, which proved effective for his team. Krasnoyarsk calmed down and returned to its original game plan. Their possessions increasingly ended with accurate three-pointers, while their drives to the basket also netted them their fair share of points. The visiting team, on the hand, started to play more uptight. Prior to the final period, Enisey’s advantage reached double digits once again. Then, in the fourth quarter, the cycle repeated itself. VEF found new strength and made a comeback in the final minutes. Trading baskets at the very end, the dueling sides couldn’t determine a winner – overtime!
The additional 5-minute period mirrored the intense nature of the second half. Neither side relented and each shot carried great weight. In the final seconds, Enisey snatched a 3-point lead thanks to free throws from Komarovskiy and Dowdell. Given only 6 seconds to tie the game, the heroic visitors miraculously drained a three-pointer, but it came too late. After a look at the video replay, the referee confirmed that the shot had been released just after the buzzer, allowing Enisey to squeak out the win, 96-93.
Elmedin Kikanovic. The center stood out for his energetic effort on offense. The Bosnian was especially skilled exploiting the pick-n-roll and working in the paint. Riga could find no antidote to Elmedin’s poison, as he scored 21 points thanks to 53% shooting from the field.
Stat of the game
16 – during the final 16 minutes, Kikanovic played with four fouls, at risk of fouling out and leaving his team without a center (Rizvic had already fouled out). During this stretch the game’s top performer knotted 10 points and 2 rebounds.
VEF head coach Ramunas Butautas:
- Congratulations to our opponents on their win! The fans enjoyed a wonderful game today. We played catch-up all day. We were especially hampered by foul trouble. In my entire career, I can’t remember so many fouls in one game. In the first half we lost the battle for loose balls, which made a difference. It’s also not like VEF to give up so many points. This time fortune smiled on the home team.
Enisey head coach Vladislav Konovalov:
- First off, I want to congratulate everyone with our win! I especially want to thank the players for overtime and that they didn’t collapse after such an exhausting end to the fourth quarter.
I warned my players that our opponent likes to attack from the perimeter. They came back today thanks to the three-point shot. The basketball gods were on our side, however.
Enisey: Elmedin Kikanovic – 21 points.
VEF: E.J. Rowland – 23 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists.