Volgograd Wins Derby In Zamansky Farewell

Krasny Oktyabr defeated Nizhny Novgorod in Volgograd, 93-87. The visitors controlled the first half, but more aggressive defense and a quicker tempo on offense helped Volgograd seize control in the second half and secure the win. With the victory, Oktyabr rejoins the playoff race, while Nizhny Novgorod drops to 8th.

Nizhny Novgorod lost to Krasny Oktyabr in the final seconds when these two teams last met. On Wednesday, Ainars Bagatskis's men hoped to take revenge.

For the home team, this marked the final game of the season in Volgograd as well as 38-year-old forward Igor Zamansky's final appearance on the court. The Krasny Oktyabr captain has decided to retire and received a big ovation from the crowd at the beginning of the contest.

The game got off to a slow start, with both teams combining for three points in the opening four and a half minutes. The scoring gradually picked up as Volgograd's big men, Jerry Jefferson and Ekene Ibekwe, set the tone for the home team, while Victor Rudd carried the visitors.

Rasid Mahalbasic and Andrei Kirdyachkin got going in the 2nd quarter, helping Nizhny open up a 12-point lead late in the first half. Volgograd cut the deficit to nine at halftime helped out by Alexey Zozulin.

Leading 46-37, Nizhny Novgorod squandered its advantage quickly in the 3rd quarter. Oktyabr's aggressive defense limited the visitors to 14 points in the quarter, allowing the home team to knot the score at 60-60 entering the 4th.

Turning Point
The score stayed close until midway through the final period. Krasny Oktyabr would not relent on defense and began to pull away thanks to timely baskets from Viacheslav Zaitcev and Vasily Zavoruev. With a minute and a half to play, Oktyabr enjoyed an 83-76 advantage. Nizhny did everything it could to mount a comeback, but never got closer than four, allowing Volgograd to record an important win and move within three games of the visitors for the final playoff berth.

Star Player
Viacheslav Zaitcev. Oktyabr's Russian guard struggled in the first half, but stepped up big-time in the second half. Zaitcev distributed the ball, knocked down shots in the 4th quarter and executed on fast breaks. He finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double (16 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds).

Stat of the Game
12 - Volgograd is terrific at mounting comebacks, overcoming a 12-point deficit in this game.

Krasny Oktyabr head coach Kirill Bolshakov:
- We're happy for this win and the emotions that our fans received from the game. It's great that we could demonstrate our toughness, turn the game around and get a win. I also have warm words for our opponent: Nizhny Novgorod is a good team and has played at a high level in recent games, as well as today. Congratulations to my good friend Ainars Bagatskis on their recent success. Nonetheless, victory was with us today.

Nizhny Novgorod head coach Ainars Bagatskis:
- We were really nervous before the game because we didn't arrive in Volgograd until tonight. Everything we'd prepared was ruined. We only had one question: how would we recover physically? Early on, the game didin't reflect our fatigue. We played decent defense and scored at an okay clip, as evidenced by our 47 points on offense. Then we seemed to forget that Oktyabr is a really dangerous team. They'd already beaten us once and our two wins against them didn't come easy.

I warned my team that our opponent's experienced players knew how to pounce if we let off the gas. Unfortunately, we did. Why? I should probably say that every player needs win an internal battle, overcome any doubts, go out on the floor and compete. Today, we weren't ready to play the type of game on defense that Oktyabr imposed. They defended very aggressively and physically. Our response was to start "crying." We weren't attentive and our opponent had plenty of excellent opportunities to attack. Plus, we forgot three times that you need to keep your hands up when playing man-to-man defense. All of those little things added up, Oktyabr took the lead, and it was really tough to recover.

There's nothing to say about our aggressiveness. We didn't have a single offensive rebound until the 38th minute and only took five free throws. It's embarrassing. I think that we are living in the past. Those good games are already behind us. There is no past or future in professional sports, only today. Oktyabr was stronger mentally and deserved to win.