Shved Beats CSKA, Nizhny Shocks Zenit, Astana On Verge Of Historic Season

Shved Beats CSKA, Nizhny Shocks Zenit, Astana On Verge Of Historic Season

The League did not miss a beat following the international break, delivering one of the best weekends of the season. 

Khimk beats CSKA for the first time since February 2015

Khimki was in far from ideal shape entering the game of the week. Tony Crocker and Jordan Mickey were out with injuries, new signing Andrew Harrison had yet to join the team and Alexey Shved was playing his first game in the VTB League after a three-month absence.

CSKA entered as the favorite and began the game on a 12-3 run, punctuated by this Nikita Kurbanov dunk:

But the reigning champs failed to hold the lead. Khimki employed suffocating defense, against which CSKA’s offense was helpless. Who knows what might have happened if Sergio Rodriguez had not caught fire before halftime: 

But CSKA continued to show cracks. Joel Bolomboy, for example, was blocked by Malcolm Thomas after trying to score on a put-back:

Khimki’s defense was so successful that the Red and Blue were at risk of breaking their season record for fewest points, before getting bailed out by overtime. Khimki, though, made sure CSKA left with a loss. Alexey Shved hit a crucial 3 with 30 seconds left and Joel Bolomboy missed a free throw that would have forced double overtime.

Shved was the star of the game. The Khimki guard poured in 37 points, a new season-best in the League and a career high for the Moscow Region sniper. 

This was a very valuable win for Khimki, its first against CSKA since February 2015. The Yellow and Blue snapped a three-game losing streak, which had dropped Moscow Region perilously close to hard-charging Astana in the standings. The team also showed that it can compete with anyone even with a rotation limited by injuries. 

Nizhny overcomes 15-point deficit to Zenit

Nizhny recently erased a 17-point deficit in Perm to beat PARMA. Over the weekend, Zoran Lukic’s men recorded another miracle: Trailing Zenit by 15 points, Nizhny shifted the momentum and forced overtime on this play from Evgeny Baburin:

During the extra period, Ian Hummer caught fire. First, the Nizhny forward blocked a shot at one end and dunked at the other within 10 seconds:

Then he knocked down the winning shot:

But Evgeny Baburin was the star of the game. Playing his 7th season in the League, the Nizhny guard spent 42 minutes on the court and posted a career-high 22 points.

Michael Jenkins knocks out UNICS

Astana has played at a consistently high level all season and only trails 3rd-place Khimki and Lokomotiv-Kuban by one victory. UNICS was silly to think anything would come easy vs. the Kazakhs, even at home. 

The game was a war for both teams with 14 lead changes and 14 ties. Astana had a chance to take a nice lead into halftime, but Trent Lockett decided otherwise:

The final quarter should have belonged to Pierria Henry. The UNICS guard took over on offense, scoring 21 points in 10 minutes, but he was overshadowed by Michael Jenkins, who scored eight in the final two minutes to spark a 10-0 Astana run, erase a seven-point deficit and knock down the game-winning shot: 

Michael finished with 24, a personal record in the League. This was Astana’s 3rd-straight win. The Kazakh club can match its club record of 13 wins with a victory vs. Kalev next week. 

PARMA parts ways with two foreign players following the loss to Astana

Astana played PARMA several days earlier. Trips to Perm are always difficult, which the Kazakh club discovered early on. Perm scored a lot of points early, finishing the 1st quarter with 28. 

But PARMA’s offense got worse and worse as the game progressed, leading to an 85-80 defeat. Immediately following the loss, the club announced that it had parted ways with Michael Humphrey and Kodi Justice. Both Americans wasted no time finding a new club, signing the same day with League foe Zielona Gora. Perm did receive some good news, however, with guard Tre’ McLean returning to the club after starting the season in Saratov. 

Avtodor and PARMA combine for the highest-scoring game of the week

Despite two overtimes this week, the highest-scoring game took place in Perm: PARMA and Avtodor combined for 198 points, with PARMA setting a new club record for points in a quarter with 40. 

Perm finished with 63 in the first half, but failed to maintain the pace in the second half. Avtodor took advantage, overcoming a 17-point deficit to bring a win back to Saratov. Perrin Buford was the main reason for Avtodor’s turnaround, finishing with 30 points, nine rebounds and a ridiculous efficiency rating.

VEF rejoins playoff race

VEF Riga is turning heads again. The team stumbled to a 1-7 start, but has gone 4-2 since mid-January and now trails 8th place by only two wins. Riga also has one of the easiest remaining schedules among the playoff hopefuls. 

On Sunday, VEF secured a comeback win vs. Zielona Gora. The 2nd quarter shifted the momentum in the game as Riga poured in 33 points to take a 13-point lead at halftime.

Steve Zack was the star of the game. The center left the court with a double-double (25 points, 11 rebounds) and one of the week’s best efficiency ratings: 29. 

Kalev enjoys biggest margin of victory this season

Kalev Estonia is pushing for a first-ever VTB League playoff berth. On Sunday, Tallinn gave Tsmoki-Minsk no chance, winning by 25 points, its biggest margin of the season.

Arnett Moultrie led the way from start to finish, recording 26 points on 11-16 shooting.

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Near the end of the game, Maxim Salash, who played for Minsk last season, shredded any remaining hope of a comeback. The forward scored a season-high 17 points to go with six rebounds, two steals and four assists.

“Enisey’s players stopped executing the game plan”

Enisey played two very different halves vs. Lokomotiv. Before halftime, Krasnoyarsk had success on defense in Krasnodar, but couldn’t stop the Railwaymen following the break.

Enisey head coach Oleg Okulov explained that his team stopped executing the game plan and the team’s leaders picked the wrong time to try and take over. 

The fans in Krasnodar have plenty to entertain them beyond the action on the court: 

Team of the week

Alexey Shved scored a career-high 37 and hit the game-winning 3 vs. CSKA.
Evgeny Baburin was one of the key players in Nizhny’s win over Zenit. The guard played almost the entire game, including overtime.
Michael Jenkins starred in Astana’s comeback in Kazan, scoring eight points and knocking down the key 3-pointer.
Perrin Buford was unstoppable in Perm as Avtodor overcame a 17-point deficit.
Steve Zack finished the game in Poland with a double-double and amazing efficiency to help VEF to a third-straight win.

Standings