The biggest stories from the past seven days in the League.
PARMA wins the first half, CSKA wins the game
An expected easy win for the reigning champs turned into the best match-up of the weekend.
Among the fans that traveled to Moscow to support PARMA were several wearing Ural-Great jerseys. It proved symbolic as the action on the court reminded many of the epic rivalry from the turn of the 21st century. There were even some celebrities in the stands, including Comedy Radio producer Gavriil Gordeev.
Баскетбол объединяет 🏀 pic.twitter.com/DOS4ebOUB2
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) November 13, 2017
PARMA dominated the opening 20 minutes, highlighted by this ferocious dunk from Codi Miller-McIntyre and 12-17 shooting from beyond the arc.
PARMA’s 60 first-half points set several records, including most points in a half this season, top 3 all-time in the League and most points in a half ever scored against CSKA.
You can imagine what Dimitris Itoudis had to say to his men at halftime. The Army Men were much better after the break, limiting the visitors to 34 points, but PARMA still had a chance in the final minute, trailing by only three points until Nando De Colo knocked down a decisive jumper to put the game out of reach. The French guard came up huge for CSKA, dropping a career-best 34 points to help his club score over 100 points for the first time this season.
“I hope PARMA continues to play at this level down the road. They could contend for a playoff spot and, who knows, possibly even make the Final Four,” – Dimitris Itoudis was extremely impressed by his opponents’ performance on Sunday.
Tsmoki wins on the road, overturns 16-point deficit
Vladimir Veremeenko and Maxim Kolyushkin debuted for Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday vs. Tsmoki-Minsk. The Belarusian big man has extensive experience in the League and made an immediate impact, posting 21 points and six rebounds. But the visitors ended up stealing the show.
Tsmoki-Minsk withstood an early 20-4 onslaught from Nizhny Novgorod and went on to dominate the final three quarters en route to a 91-82 victory. Tsmoki’s last win on the road in the League came on November 20, 2016, against PARMA. With the curse broken, the Dragons move into 6th place in the League thanks to a 3-3 record.
Isaiah Briscoe – Kalev’s new star
Kalev’s Isaiah Briscoe had a special debut in front of the home fans. The young point guard spent two years at the University of Kentucky before deciding to go pro this summer. After gaining some experience in the NBA Summer League and training camp, this is his first stop in Europe.
In the first half against Astana, Briscoe focused on facilitating, dishing out five assists. In the second half, it was Briscoe Time. Isaiah buried Astana’s hopes of a comeback, finishing the game with 20 points (7-11 from the field) to go with six assists and five rebounds.
Avtodor and Coty Clarke test UNICS
Expectations were sky-high last season in Kazan when UNICS signed Coty Clarke. But he picked up a nasty injury early in the season and struggled to make an impact upon his return. Over the summer, Clarke joined Avtodor, where he’s had much more success, reminding fans why he’s been called a poor man’s Draymond Green.
Several players weren’t able to make the trip to Kazan, but Clarke more than compensated against his former club, erupting for 29 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes, while drawing eight fouls. Avtodor was in the game until the final minute, when UNICS was able to make a few shots and escape with a victory.
Kazan enjoyed a 5-0 start to the season and finally witnessed Clarke’s full arsenal of moves, even if he isn’t suiting up for UNICS any more.
Competition heating up
Kalev’s win over Astana means that for the first time since adopting a full regular season schedule, every team in the League has a win by Week 6. Tsmoki-Minsk didn’t pick up a win until Week 7 in the 2014-15 season, Vita didn’t break through until Week 6 in 2015-16 and PARMA needed 20 weeks to get a win in 2016-17.
From top to bottom, the standings are packed with intrigue. The League’s top five teams have lost a combined three games, while places 6-13 are almost interchangeable, with Tsmoki the only team to three wins. If the League can sustain this level of balance, the race for the postseason and a top seed could be epic.