Astana Kazakhstan defeated Zielona Gora Poland at home, 84-70 (21-15, 24-17, 12-17, 27-21).
Astana: Ken Horton (21 + 11 reb), Stephen Holt (17), Anthony Clemmons (14 + 9 ast), Michael Jenkins (14)
Zielona Gora: Przemyslav Zamojski (14), Markel Starks (13), Quinton Hosley (11)
Astana continued its surprising 2018-19 campaign with a comfortable win at home against Zielona Gora. Ken Horton led the way with a double-double (21 points, 11 rebounds), keeping the Kazakh club in the chase for a top-four finish and home-court advantage in the postseason.
Zielona Gora was coming off a statement win on Sunday vs. Avtodor and opened the game on a 6-0 run. But the early momentum faded quickly as the home team with a 9-0 run of its own, capped by a triple from Rustam Yergali.
Astana dominated the rest of the first half, gradually extending its lead to 18, 42-24, midway through the 2nd quarter. Geoffrey Grosselle scored eight points in three minutes as the Zielona Gora defense struggled to contain Astana inside.
Four different players scored on an 8-0 run that brought the Poles back to within 10, but Astana’s Anthony Clemmons finished the half with a three-point play to give his team a comfortable 13-point lead.
Zielona Gora tried to mount a comeback in the 3rd quarter. The visitors limited Astana to four points over the first six minutes and cut the lead to six, 49-43, on an Adam Hrycaniuk dunk.
Emil Rajkovic was forced to take a timeout and Stephen Holt, knocking down a triple to push the lead back to nine. Zielona Gora had more chances and only trailed by eight entering 4th quarter, but the visitors never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Astana slammed the door shut with back-to-back 3’s from Holt and Alexander Zhigulin in the first 30 seconds of the 4th quarter.
The home team had little trouble the rest of the way, securing its 10th win of the season and moving within a game of Lokomotiv-Kuban for 4th place.
Zielona Gora falls to 4-12 with the defeat.
10 – Astana became the first win outside of the Big Five to win 10 games.
The Kazakh club last won 10 games in the 2014-15 season (finishing with 13), when the regular season featured 30 games.
Ken Horton. The forward played almost the entire game, finishing with 21 points on 9-12 shooting, 11 rebounds and two steals.
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic: “This is a very important win for us, like any in the VTB League. We are 10-6 now heading into the international break and Astana is among the leaders in the League. I’m proud of my guys. We have issues with injuries. Michael Jenkins had missed a few games. But he played today despite not being 100%. J.J. O’Brien also did not practice before the game because of an issue with his ankle, but he took the court today. Congratulations to the team on this win!”
Zielona Gora head coach Igor Jovovic: “This was a very challenging game, but we had a lot of opportunities to come out on top. Our offense was not good today, but we kept believing and fighting. We led by six, but gave up three straight offensive rebounds and let them hit a few 3-pointers. Ultimately, Astana gained confidence and started to control the game. Our opponent has played excellent basketball all season. Congratulations to Astana on this win.”