Astana defeated Lokomotiv-Kuban on the road, 90-71 (19-22, 17-20, 22-14, 32-15).
Lokomotiv-Kuban: Vitaly Fridzon (13), Jamel McLean (12 + 5 reb), JaJuan Johnson (11 + 9 reb)
Astana: Anthony Clemmons (30 + 10 reb), Michael Jenkins (18), Geoffrey Grosselle (16 + 9 reb), J.J. O’Brien (15), Ken Horton (9 + 16 reb)
Astana continued its sensational start to the season with a 19-point win in Krasnodar over Lokomotiv-Kuban. The visitors overturned a six-point halftime deficit behind outstanding rebounding and Anthony Clemmons’ huge night (30 points, 10 rebounds).
Lokomotiv-Kuban removed the interim tag from Vlada Jovanovic over the break, but he suffered a rude welcome in his first official game as head coach in the VTB United League. Emil Rajkovic’s Astana dominated the glass (51-36) and completely shredded Krasnodar’s defense in the 4th quarter (32-15) to put the game away.
Anthony Clemmons was the star, knocking down four 3-pointers en route to 30 points and a rare 30 + 10 double-double.
But he was far from the only big performer on Astana’s roster. Michael Jenkins, Geoffrey Grosselle and J.J. O’Brien each scored in double digits, while Ken Horton pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds.
Belying the final score, this game was close until midway through the 4th quarter. Leading 65-64 with 5:40 remaining, Astana buried the Railwaymen with a 13-0 run. Horton sparked the visitors with a 3-pointer and three-point play, before Clemmons added another triple that pushed Astana’s lead to double digits (74-64).
Jovanovic was forced to take a timeout, but it was too late. Jenkins and Clemmons scored on the next two possessions as Astana held Loko scoreless for nearly three minutes during the streak.
The victory gives Astana a 5-3 record, tied with Zenit with 4th place (though the Kazakh club has the tiebreaker). Lokomotiv, meanwhile, falls to 5-4 and 6th place, only one game ahead of Kalev.
1 – Astana won in Krasnodar for the first time.
Anthony Clemmons. He set a new career high in the VTB League with 30 points, and added 10 rebounds in 39 and a half minutes on the court!
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic: “This was a very tough game. Of course, Lokomotiv was the favorite. In the 1st half, we tried to keep things moving, even though we have a small rotation. We mixed defenses and controlled the tempo. After halftime, we started to believe in ourselves more and play with more aggression. In the end, it paid off. This was a very important win for us, which showed that Astana is moving in the right direction. I’m happy the guys weren’t focused on individual numbers and did everything to win.”
Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Vlada Jovanovic: “Preparing for this game was very difficult because of the FIBA window. We had to work with five players; we were missing seven roster players. Astana is a strong team and enjoying a strong season. We looked for our rhythm on offense and defense, but could not pull away in the 1st half. In the 3rd and 4th quarters we ran into a lot of issues. We lost out on a lot of loose balls that we needed to fight for. Plus, Astana grabbed 51 rebounds. That’s a lot. It was a bad game. But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have a big game with Cedevita in a few days.”