Week 10 In Review: Top Teams Humbled In Wild Weekend

Week 10 In Review: Top Teams Humbled In Wild Weekend

Season X continues to surprise! 

Avtodor matches best comeback of the season

Zenit was not at full strength in Saratov, but brought plenty of firepower. Sergey Karasev returned from injury and Gal Mekel was healthy again. St. Petersburg expected to win. By halftime, it looked like Zenit had the game sewed up, leading by 14 thanks to a ridiculous shooting percentage. 

Zenit captain Evgeny Voronov, in his 8th season in the League, was the best player on the court, dropping 16 points in the first half. 

Avtodor captain Artem Zabelin, not surprisingly, was upset about his team’s first-half performance and made Zenit pay, blocking four shots and knocking down two 3-pointers to get Saratov going. 

Avtodor ultimately caught Zenit and won the game, 95-94, thanks to clutch free throws. Dusan Alimpijevic called the victory “one of the most valuable of my coaching career.” And for good reason: It’s not every day you erase a 19-point deficit in the second half vs. one of the League’s top teams.

PARMA beats UNICS for the first time

Another surprise took place in Perm. PARMA didn’t even need to dig itself a big hole before dealing a loss to UNICS. The home team led from the opening minutes, thanks to plays like this: 

Despite its past struggles vs. Kazan, PARMA was in control from start to finish on Sunday. The Ural underdogs maintained a several point advantage, setting up an exciting finish in front of a raucous crowd. UNICS briefly surged in front with less than a minute remaining, but the final word belonged to Kodi Justice. He’d missed six of seven already, but showed no fear taking, and making, the biggest shot of the game. 

UNICS had time for an answer, but Jamar Smith and Errick McCollum both missed, giving PARMA the 68-66 win. This was PARMA’s first win over Kazan and pulled the team within half a game of the final playoff spot. 

Nizhny takes advantage of Shved and Gill’s absence

Khimki – Nizhny Novgorod games always deliver. Last season, for example, Nizhny Novgorod lost twice by a measly three points. Zoran Lukic and co. even had the game in Moscow Region in the bag, before Alexey Shved forced overtime with a last-second three: 

This time around, Alexey Shved (and Anthony Gill) was not on the court. The guard celebrated his 30th birthday on the bench as he continues to recover from a broken finger. And Nizhny decided to take advantage.

Kendrick Perry and Dmitry Uzinksy formed an electric combo: Perry dished out the assists and Uzinsky converted. On one of the plays, Uzinsky had trouble getting to the ball, but still managed to finish the alley-oop slam. 

Everyone expected Nizhny to run out of steam vs. Khimki, but the visitors had enough juice for 40 minutes. Anton Astapkovich played one of the best games of his career (15 points, six rebounds, four assists) and helped deal Khimki a defeat, the first of the season for the Yellow and Blue. 

Astana becoming legitimately dangerous

That’s what Astana coach Emil Rajkovic had to say after his team’s 105-78 win over Kalev. The Estonians have also been a pleasant surprise this season, but never had a chance in Kazakhstan. Astana shut down Kalev’s offense at every turn and scored over 100 points for the first time this season.

To everyone’s surprise, Astana will likely enter 2019 as one of the League’s top teams. Zenit’s loss allowed the Kazakh club to take over sole possession of 4th place in the standings. Meanwhile, Astana only trails 3rd-place UNICS by a game with a big match-up looming in early January. Who knows what this squad from the Kazakh capital might achieve.

Martins Meiers helps Enisey beat VEF

VEF Riga started the game strong, leading Enisey by 11 points in the 1st quarter in Krasnoyarsk, highlighted by a buzzer-beater from Arturs Ausejs. 

But it’s extremely difficult to maintain that type of tempo against Enisey on the road for 40 minutes. VEF head coach Janis Gailitis concurred, noting afterward: “Games in Krasnoyarsk are always challenging from a physical standpoint.” 

After losing big in the 1st quarter, Enisey quickly asserted control with help from John Roberson and Latvian forward Martins Meiers. Both were outstanding in the second half, which should come as no surprise: Roberson loves to get his team going and Meiers was playing for pride vs. his former team.

Enisey now has four wins, nearly matching last season’s total (6).

Loko avoids becoming another upset victim

Lokomotiv played Tsmoki in the final game of the week. After so many upsets, it was fair to wonder if Minsk might have a surprise up its sleeve, too, especially since Kalev and Astana have both won in Krasnodar this season.

To the relief of the Loko fans, however, Tsmoki had no chance against the Red and Green machine. Kuban moves back into 5th place courtesy of an 80-69 win. Mateusz Ponitka celebrated with a reverse slam in transition:

Dmitry Khvostov added 14 points and 11 assists, cracking the Team of the Week. 

Team of the Week