UNICS Russia defeated Astana Kazakhstan on the road in overtime, 78-73 (22-19, 16-6, 19-20, 9-21, 12-7).
Astana: Leonidas Kaselakis (18), Lamont Gordon (18), Justin Carter (13 + 8 reb + 8 ast)
UNICS: Jamar Smith (20), Stephane Lasme (14 + 11 reb), Anton Ponkrashov (14 + 7 ast)
Astana’s Justin Carter missed a chance to win the game in regulation, connecting on one of two free throws with the home team trailing by a point.
In the extra period, Anton Ponkrashov knocked down a pair of triples, Quino Colom added one and the visitors held on for a 78-73 win in the Kazakh capital.
UNICS was in control much of the first half thanks to an outstanding defensive effort. Kazan limited Astana to 25 first-half points, including a measly six in the 2nd quarter to go ahead by 13 at the break, 38-25.
Astana scored only 50 in last week’s loss to Krasnodar, including a five-point showing in the 4th quarter. In danger of another dismal afternoon of offense, Astana needed a spark.
It would get worse before it got better–UNICS opened the second half on a 12-3 run to take a 22-point lead. But several clutch 3-pointers and improved defense helped the home team cut the deficit to 12 entering the 4th.
Back-to-back turnovers from UNICS to start the period and six quick points from the home team made it a six-point game with a little under nine minutes remaining. Anton Ponomarev and Larry Gordon were huge down the stretch for Astana, combining for 15 points in the quarter.
Gordon’s 3-pointer with less than a minute to go cut the deficit to one, 66-65. After Quino Colom missed at the other end, Justin Carter drew a foul and two free throws to secure the upset. But his first attempt was off and Astana had to settle for overtime as he drained the second.
After limiting UNICS to nine points in the 4th quarter, Astana’s defense ran out steam. Anton Ponkrashov knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers on the first two possessions and UNICS never trailed in the extra period.
UNICS moves into 3rd place with the win, while Astana drops to 2-7, tied for 10th with PARMA.
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) December 17, 2017
Anton Ponkrashov. Dimitris Priftis kept Ponkrashov on the court in crunch time and he delivered, scoring nine of his 14 points in the final minutes of regulation and overtime.
22 – The visitors led by as much as 22 early in the 3rd quarter, but needed overtime to get the win.
Astana head coach Kostas Flevarakis:
– I have the feeling we’ve missed out on two wins this season: I’m talking about the game with Khimki and today’s game with UNICS. It’s a really tough loss to swallow. Everything was in our hands, but unfortunately we weren’t able to win. We played extremely well in the second half and deserved to win. I’m happy that despite our problems–we really need a point guard–my team is ready to fight to the end and prepared to compete against big teams. Of course, there’s a lot of optimism. We’ll continue working on our mistakes and prepare for the next game.
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis:
– This was a very interesting game. We led in the first half, had good possessions, made almost all of our open shots and were pretty efficient. In the second half, Astana switched to zone defense which created some problems for us. Regardless, the game went into overtime where 3-point shooting helped us. I want to congratulate Astana and coach Kostas Flevarakis on a good game.
Astana: December 25 away vs. CSKA
UNICS: January 7 home vs. Enisey