Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus defeated VEF Latvia at home, 91-84 (19-26, 23-13, 30-18, 19-27).
Tsmoki-Minsk: Aliaksei Trastsinetski (19 + 5 reb), Devon Saddler (16), Aliaksandr Semianiuk (13 + 7 reb), Zisis Sarikopoulos (11 + 8 reb)
VEF: Andrejs Grazulis (18), Kristaps Janicenoks (15), Steve Zack (14), Jabril Durham (11 + 7 ast)
Tsmoki-Minsk picked up a second win in three outings, defeating rival VEF to move out of the League cellar.
Belarusian forward Aliaksei Trastsinetski was the star for Minsk, scoring a season-high 19 points to go with five rebounds.
Tsmoki took over the game in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, outscoring VEF by 22 (53-31) during the stretch. Trailing by 10 early in the 2nd period, the home team snuck into halftime with a 42-39 lead.
The turning point came in the 3rd. Trastsinetski scored 11 of his 19 points in the quarter, including two triples and a three-point trip to the charity stripe.
Minsk raced to 30 points in the period, and led by as much as 17, entering the 4th quarter with a commanding 72-57 advantage.
VEF, however, came roaring back in the 4th quarter. Kristaps Janicenoks scored nine and Riga twice cut the deficit to three, including 85-82 with 37 seconds remaining. Janicenoks could have made it a two-point game, but missed the front end of a two-shot foul.
Needing an answer, Tsmoki-Minsk countered with Zisis Sarikopoulos. The Greek big man scored a quick layup to put the home team up five, before sealing the win with a fast-break dunk after VEF’s Mareks Mejeris committed a turnover.
Despite opening the season 0-5, Tsmoki has won two of the last three and improves to 2-6. VEF drops into last place at 2-8.
Zisis Sarikopoulos. The Greek center’s four points in the final minute shut down VEF’s comeback and clinched a victory.
30 – number of points scored by the Dragons in the 3rd quarter. On average this season, Minsk scores fewer points in the 3rd quarter–19.5 per game–than any other quarter.
Tsmoki-Minsk head coach Aliaksandr Krutsikau: “This was an important game. I think we were able to escape last place in the League. I’m very grateful to our fans for not leaving us during a tough time. The team is still being built. We lost our best power forward in D.J. Shelton when he left for Banvit.
The guys showed heart today. Maybe they played well at times, and not so well at others. But I’m happy with the result and that we were able to stop them on our glass, since VEF is one of the best in the League in that area.”
VEF head coach Janis Gailitis: “This was a good game, especially for the Minsk fans. We got off to a decent start, but then we lost focus on the small details: rebounds, screens, communication. The desire to win was there, but our play left a lot to be desired.”