Astana Kazakhstan defeated Enisey Russia at home, 93-85 (17-28, 26-22, 24-23, 26-12).
Astana: J.J. O’Brien (20), Michael Jenkins (17 + 5 reb + 6 ast), Stephen Holt (16 + 8 reb + 5 ast), Alexander Zhigulin (15), Ken Horton (11 + 6 reb)
Enisey: Denis Zakharov (19), Martins Meiers (17 + 9 reb), John Roberson (15 + 7 ast), Ilya Popov (15)
Astana used stifling defense down the stretch to rally at home and secure its 15th win of the season. The Kazakhs trailed 9th-place Enisey by eight points early in the 4th quarter, but only gave up six points over the final eight and a half minutes to secure the comeback victory.
Despite being eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday, Krasnoyarsk began the game on a 10-1 run and went up by as much as 14 (28-14) in the 1st quarter behind 10 points from Denis Zakharov.
Astana began to chip away at the deficit late in the 2nd quarter. Alexander Zhigulin scored six straight points and a Michael Jenkins triple reduced Enisey’s lead to five, 48-43, with less than a minute before halftime.
But D’Angelo Harrison scored on a layup to end the half and Enisey remained in relative control, 50-43, going into the 3rd quarter.
Early in the second half, Enisey nearly put the game away. Martins Meiers led the way with seven points in three minutes as the visitors took a commanding 62-47 lead on a Zakharov jumper.
At risk of falling behind Zenit in the race for 5th place, Astana got hot from beyond the arc, draining four 3-pointers to pull within four, 66-62.
For the rest of the 3rd quarter and early in the 4th, Enisey’s lead hovered between 4-8 points, maintaining an uncomfortable balance for both teams.
Unable to slow the visitors down for the first 32 minutes, Astana finally found its defense in the 4th quarter. After taking a 79-71 lead with 8:27 to go, Enisey shot a miserable 1-13 from the field the rest of the way to go with five turnovers.
Astana capitalized, taking its first lead of the game on a pair of Ken Horton free throws (83-82).
Leading 89-84 with two minutes to go, Astana forced a key turnover on Artem Komissarov which led to a Horton fast-break dunk and effectively put the game away.
The Kazakh club wins by eight and continues its fairy-tale season with a 15th victory. Astana can clinch 5th place on Friday with a win on the road vs. Zenit.
6 – six players scored in double digits for Astana.
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic: “This was a very tough game. We believed in a positive outcome to the very end. We knew it wouldn’t be easy since Enisey had won its last three games.
We needed to travel to St. Petersburg for our final game in a positive mood. I’m very satisfied and very happy that we won. A big thank you to our fans and viewers for coming and supporting our team throughout the entire game. I hope that in the upcoming playoff games we’ll have the same atmosphere and even more fans to play in front of. We thrive on the support. It’s very important to us and our players really feed off it.”
Enisey head coach Oleg Okulov: “Congratulations to Astana on the win today and making the playoffs.”