Astana Kazakhstan defeated Zenit Russia at home, 93-91 (24-20, 13-28, 29-22, 27-21).
Astana: Anthony Clemmons (26 + 10 ast), Ken Horton (19 + 6 reb), J.J. O’Brien (13 + 5 reb), Malcolm Jenkins (12)
Zenit: Jalen Reynolds (21 + 5 reb), Brandon Jennings (16), Gal Mekel (15 + 7 ast), Evgeny Voronov (12)
Astana upset Zenit on Sunday afternoon in the Kazakh capital, 93-91, led by Anthony Clemmons’ big game and a remarkable second-half comeback.
The home team, which trailed by 19 midway through the 3rd quarter, enjoyed a stunning victory over Vasily Karasev’s St. Petersburg brigade.
Anthony Clemmons led the way, scoring 13 of his game-high 26 points in the 3rd quarter to ultimately trim Zenit’s once-daunting lead down to four, 70-66, entering the 4th.
With Zenit clinging to a five-point advantage, 79-74, midway through the 4th quarter, Astana went on a decisive 10-1 run to seize the momentum and the lead.
American forward J.J. O’Brien converted the crucial three-point play to put Astana in front, while Malcolm Jenkins sank three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer by Zenit big man Jalen Reynolds.
Trailing by five, 85-80, Zenit quickly tied the game on a Evgeny Voronov layup and Gal Mekel triple, but the visitors, who were missing forward Sergey Karasev to injury, never got any closer.
Astana scored the rest of its points at the free-throw line to go with several huge stops on defense down the stretch.
None was bigger than Zenit swingman Jarrod Uthoff’s miss from beyond the arc with 37 seconds to play. Zenit trailed by two, 89-87, and desperately needed the bucket, but Uthoff couldn’t convert and Astana snagged the rebound.
After Vladislav Trushkin cut the deficit to one, 90-89, on a layup, Ken Horton sank two huge free throws for Astana with 23 seconds remaining.
Zenit had one final chance to tie, but Uthoff missed again from downtown as the home team held on for victory.
With the win, Emil Rajkovic and co. vault into a tie for 4th-place with Lokomotiv-Kuban at 2-1. Zenit, on other hand, joins VEF and Tsmoki-Minsk as the only three teams without a victory in the League.
19 – Astana pulled off a remarkable rally, erasing a 19-point deficit with five minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.
The home team scored 48 points in the final 15 minutes!
Anthony Clemmons. The American guard scored 13 points in the final five minutes of the 3rd quarter to help Astana recover from a huge deficit.
He finished with 26 points and 10 assists, making it back-to-back games with 20+ points (Clemmons scored 23 in the win over Tsmoki last Saturday).
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic: “I am extremely grateful to each player. Even though we trailed by 19 points, they continued to believe, showed character and gave our fans a beautiful win. Congrats to everyone!”
Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev: “We have ourselves to blame for the loss. In the 3rd quarter, when we practically led by 20 points, we relaxed and thought the game was over. We took some absolutely stupid unnecessary shots and committed inexplicable turnovers. That allowed Astana to catch us. At the end, we couldn’t come together and take the lead. The fouls piled up, plus we already had issues with the rotation. Obviously, it’s very difficult to play with five people. We tried to find the right combination, but it proved completely unlucky.”
Astana: October 29 away vs. Zielona Gora
Zenit: October 27 away vs. VEF