CSKA Russia defeated Astana Kazakhstan on the road, 86-61 (14-15, 27-12, 24-20, 21-14).
Astana: Geoffrey Grosselle (14 + 5 reb), J.J. O’Brien (12 + 5 reb), Anthony Clemmons (11 + 3 stl)
CSKA: Othello Hunter (18 + 6 reb), Cory Higgins (16), Semyon Antonov (10)
The reigning champions overcame a slow start to overpower Astana in the Kazakh capital and improve to 2-0.
Playing for a new head coach in Emil Rajkovic, Astana led the entire 1st quarter before wilting in the 2nd.
CSKA went on a 17-0 run early in the period, turning a three-point deficit into a 31-17 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first half.
Moscow’s defense keyed the run, forcing five turnovers, while forward Will Clyburn scored seven of the 17, including a pair of dunks.
.@Da_Thrill21 with the DUNK
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) October 7, 2018
Astana went on to lose the 2nd quarter by a 27-12 margin and trailed 41-27 at halftime.
CSKA’s opponents rarely recover from such a punch, but the home team stormed back in the 3rd quarter.
Geoffrey Grosselle and zone defense keyed the comeback. CSKA was held to six points over the first seven minutes of the period, while Grosselle scored eight, including a dunk midway through the quarter that cut the deficit to four, 46-42.
Astana kept coming, closing to within one, 47-46, on a Rustam Murzagaliyev layup.
Ivan Ukhov helped push CSKA’s lead back to five with a triple late in the 3rd.
But the big blow came on the following possession when Murzagaliyev was whistled for an unsportmanlike foul on Cory Higgins. The American swingman buried both free throws then scored on the following possession to stretch the lead to nine.
Othello Hunter, who finished with a game-high 18, iced the game with a seven-point flurry to finish the quarter. The CSKA lead had ballooned from one to 18 in less than four minutes and the visitors cruised the victory in the 4th.
17-0 – CSKA twice mounted 17-0 runs, including the crucial surge to close the 3rd quarter.
+18 – The Army Men enjoyed a 25-7 advantage in points off turnovers, punishing Astana for every mistake.
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic: “This was not an easy game, considering we still do not have a full roster. I think our team gave everything it had on the court today. After all, we were playing against one of the best teams in Europe. We also made mistakes and I’m talking about what we can control. The opponent’s quality and level also make a difference. On defense, CSKA pressed and did a nice job in transition. Overall, I want to note that we have a lot of work ahead and this was only the first game. We have a lot left to do.”
CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis: “Congratulations to the team. We finished this trip with a second win. We had good stretches in the game, but it’s clear we have more work to do. We need to be ready for more serious games that await us.”
Astana: October 13 away vs. Tsmoki-Minsk
CSKA: October 13 home vs. Nizhny Novgorod