Week 12 In Review: Nizhny Slows Down Astana, Plaza Gets 1st Win At Zenit

Week 12 In Review: Nizhny Slows Down Astana, Plaza Gets 1st Win At Zenit

Everything you need to know about the first weekend of 2019. 

Errick McCollum saves UNICS from Enisey

The match-up between Enisey and UNICS turned out to be surprisingly competitive. Krasnoyarsk came out swinging, building a nine-point lead in the 1st quarter. Kazan steadily chipped away at the deficit, but could not seem to break the resilient visitors. The typically calm Dimitris Priftis showed hid displeasure , berating his players and even preventing a camera man from filming during a timeout. 

In the 4th quarter, UNICS finally took a relatively safe 10-point lead, but Enisey refused to quit. Krasnoyarsk scored 33 points in the final quarter and only a turnover by John Roberson with 30 seconds remaining prevented the northerners from springing the upset, 95-92. 

Errick McCollum played a big part in Kazan’s win. The UNICS guard poured in 14 points during the 4th quarter, nearly half of his team’s offense. 

Nizhny Novgorod foils Astana again

Astana had not lost since November, a setback to Nizhny Novgorod at home, and their opponent on Sunday in the Game of the Week. The Kazakh club was riding a four-game winning streak and had climbed to 4th place in the standings before the game.

Astana wanted to keep the party going. J.J. O’Brien definitely did, ripping Nizhny for 11 points in less than five minutes in the 1st quarter. 

But then things fell apart, mostly because of Nizhny Novgorod. The Russians played with such heart and intensity that they even earned praise from coach Zoran Lukic: “I rarely say this, but today I want to tell my team, “Great job!”” 

Nizhny’s Swedish import Chris Czerapowicz was the star of the game, pouring in 27 points on 6-10 shooting from downtown. His perimeter shooting was huge down the stretch when Astana tried to mount a comeback.

Avtodor wows in 1st win of 2019

Tsmoki took on Avtodor in Minsk, but Saratov quickly made itself at home. One of the first possessions of the game featured this fast break: Trae Golden lofted the ball toward the rim and Perrin Buford eagerly slammed it home for the first dunk of the year.

Only a few minutes later, Buford created his own highlight, posterizing the Tsmoki defense and even drawing applause from the stunned home crowd:

Golden and Buford were responsible for the Avtodor win: both recording double-doubles and both scoring an efficient 26 points. It’s not the first time the duo went off: The American duo lit up Kalev back in October

Quote of the Week
“You know, it’s a holiday today in Spain. We give presents to the children. I’m not a child any more, but this win is a big present for me.” Zenit head coach Joan Plaza picked up his first win with his new team. 

Perm was the setting. PARMA stayed even for the first 15 minutes, but by halftime Zenit had already built an 11-point lead:

Zenit ultimately scored over 100 to snap a three-game losing streak. One of the key players for Zenit, of course, was none other than Codi Miller-McIntyre: The ex-PARMA guard enjoyed his best game in a Zenit uniform with 16 points, seven assists and 5-8 shooting. But he still got a warm welcome in Perm and even signed autographs after the game with the newest Kodi in Perm, Kodi Justice: 

Loko turns in historic defensive performance

Loko had no trouble dispatching Zielona Gora in Krasnodar. Defense was the key to the win. The Poles had a tough time scoring over 40 points, while Krasnodar cruised to 73. Lokomotiv-Kuban set a new club record by allowing only 41 points, which is also tied for the 3rd-fewest points surrendered in League history. 

Zielona Gora was also solid defensively for the first 20 minutes, but fell apart after halftime. Vladimir Ivlev’s buzzer-beater to end the 3rd quarter was likely the final nail in the coffin for the League rookies: 

CSKA remains undefeated

The Army Men avoided any drama, crushing VEF in Moscow, 92-66. CSKA wasted no time seizing control in this one:

Othello Hunter and Mikhail Kulagin combined for this work of art: 

“We wanted to take some positives from this game,” said VEF head coach Janis Gailitis. And his team did everything it could, even outscoring CSKA in the 2nd quarter:

But matching the reigning champions for 40 minutes proved too much. CSKA enjoyed its 12th-straight win and remains the only undefeated team in the VTB League’s Season X.

Team of the Week

Chris Czerapowicz is finally looking like himself after returning from a broken hand. The Swede played one of his best games for Nizhny in the League: 27 points, 6-10 from downtown and six rebounds as a bonus.

Against Tsmoki, Trae Golden recorded his second-straight double-double with assists (and his third this season): 26 points, 10 assists. It wasn’t enough for a win vs. Astana, but Avtodor got the victory in Minsk. 

Zenit guard Gal Mekel’s double-double (15 points, 10 assists) was a bit more modest, but he still earns a spot on the Team of the Week.

Errick McCollum literally saved UNICS from defeat to Enisey, scoring 14 points in the final quarter. He finished with 18 points and a 15 efficiency rating.

CSKA center Joel Bolomboy was excellent on defense vs. VEF and also contributed 14 points and six rebounds.