Avtodor Russia defeated Astana Kazakhstan on the road, 92-75 (23-19, 18-20, 21-17, 30-19).
Astana: Malcolm Grant (22), Ike Udanoh (12 + 10 reb), Anthony Clemmons (11 + 5 reb + 7 ast), Anton Ponomarev (11 + 5 reb)
Avtodor: Coty Clarke (30 + 7 reb), Shaq McKissic (13 + 6 reb), Ian Hummer (11 + 6 reb), Maxim Sheleketo (10)
The home team needed a win in the worst way possible, hoping to slip into the postseason with a victory over Avtodor and a Tsmoki-Minsk loss in St. Petersburg.
But a decisive 4th quarter run, sparked by 17-year-old Saratov forward Anton Kvitkovskikh, saw Avtodor take control of the game late and secure the #5 seed in the upcoming playoffs.
The visitors led most of the way, carried by a big night from forward Coty Clarke, who finished with a game-high 30 points.
Astana chipped away at an early eight-point deficit in the 2nd quarter, briefly surging in front thanks to a flurry of triples from Malcolm Grant. Avtodor finished the half on top, 41-39, but only scored 18 points in the period to give the home team hope for an upset.
After a back-and-forth start to the 3rd quarter, the visitors began to pull away. A 9-0 run late in the period gave Avtodor its first double-digit lead, though Astana was able to cut it to six to end the 3rd, 62-56.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Malcolm Grant and Anton Ponomarev pulled Astana within four, 69-65, with a little under seven minutes remaining. After Clarke missed a jumper at the other end, the home team had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but Grant committed a turnover, leading to a Shaq McKissic three at the other end.
That’s when 17-year-old Anton Kvitkovskikh stepped into the limelight. The young Russian forward scored six straight for Avtodor, including his first two points in the VTB United League, stretching the lead to 11, 76-65, with five minutes to go.
Astana never recovered, giving up 30 points in the period to fall by a final score of 92-75.
With the win, Avtodor clinches 5th place in the regular season and will advance to play Zenit in the first round of the playoffs.
Astana finishes with a 7-17 record, one game out of the postseason.
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) May 12, 2018
16 – number of Astana misses at the free-throw line (7-23) in the biggest game of the season.
Astana head coach Mikhail Karpenko:
– Unfortunately, we essentially competed for three quarters and hung around. We more or less executed the game plan, but our play completely fell apart in the 4th quarter. It’s tough now to figure out what happened. I need to see the tape. It feels like some of our players simply couldn’t take the pressure. We only made seven of 23 free throws, which is a terrible result and unacceptable for a professional team. We committed a lot of stupid turnovers, but I’m not trying to avoid responsibility by pointing out the players’ mistakes. We all lost together: the players and the coaches.
Avtodor head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
– I want to congratulate the guys on the win! They demonstrated character today and showed that we’re on the right path. We took another step toward our goal. We expected a very serious game because Astana plays aggressive, athletic, up-tempo basketball. The team has good guards: Carter, Clemmons, Grant. It’s not easy slowing them down. It’s impossible to stop them completely, but we tried to keep their shooting percentage below average. It didn’t always work, especially in the first half. After halftime, we started playing better defense, especially on the perimeter. We played them tighter and kept up on defensive switches. Our advantage on the glass was a very important factor. Klimenko, Hummer, Sheleketo and 17-year-old Anton Kvitkovskikh, who had a very nice appearance, really helped us on the glass. We managed to find a balance: We stopped their snipers and shut down the paint. The reserves gave us a boost of energy, plus our leaders Clarke, Frazier, Robinson and McKissic played well. Everyone was focused and united by a single goal: battling for 5th place.
Astana: Season complete (10th place, 7-17)
Avtodor: Season complete (5th place, 14-10)
Images of the Game