Astana Kazakhstan defeated Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus on the road, 93-86 (17-17, 20-27, 23-17, 26-32).
Tsmoki-Minsk: Darrin Govens (21 + 5 ast), Vitali Liutych (15), Stefan Moody (15), D.J. Shelton (13 + 6 reb)
Astana: Anthony Clemmons (23 + 3 stl), J.J. O’Brien (19 + 5 reb + 5 ast), Geoffrey Grosselle (14 + 10 reb), Ken Horton (14 + 6 reb)
Visiting Astana hung on for victory in Minsk, giving head coach Emil Rajkovic his first victory in the VTB United League. Guard Anthony Clemmons, one of the few players to remain from last year’s roster, led the way with 23 points, while forward J.J. O’Brien flashed his all-around game, recording 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The game was decided midway through the 4th quarter. After Tsmoki guard Darrin Govens drained a triple to cut Astana’s lead to one, 73-72, the visitors took control with an 11-3 run, capped by a Clemmons 3-pointer with one minute remaining.
The Dragons dragged out the clock, trying to claw back via full-court pressure and quick fouls. But the Kazakhs made 9-10 from the line to close out the win.
Tsmoki has now lost back-to-back home games to begin the season, both against fellow playoff hopefuls. With two home games remaining in October vs. Nizhny Novgorod and Enisey, Aliaksandr Krutsikau and co. need to right the ship quickly. An 0-4 start at home would be disastrous.
+8 – Rebounding may have decided the outcome of this game. Evenly matched in most components, Astana outrebounded the home team, 37-29.
Tsmoki-Minsk head coach Aliaksandr Krutsikau:
– You know, we practice together, but during the game we simply forget the plays. There were some really bad turnovers, even though 13 is not that many. But 3-4 of them were key. We weren’t very good on the glass. We play in the FIBA Cup on Wednesday and I don’t even know what we’ll do with such leaky defense.
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic:
– This was a tough game. Tsmoki played good basketball. Our guys were probably a bit tougher at the end. They hit a few big shots. We got a little luckier and won this game. Congratulations to the players. This was an important win for us.
Tsmoki-Minsk: October 20 home vs. Nizhny Novgorod
Astana: October 21 home vs. Zenit