Week 20 In Review: Kalev Passes Avtodor In Playoff Race, Antonov Joins Club 2000

Week 20 In Review: Kalev Passes Avtodor In Playoff Race, Antonov Joins Club 2000

The action is heating up as the postseason draws closer! 

Zenit avoids overtime

Zenit has been unlucky in recent games, twice blowing big leads before falling in overtime to teams it was expected to beat. On Sunday, Avtodor visited the SIBUR Arena, the same team that erased a 19-point deficit in Saratov against St. Petersburg in December. 

Zenit was prepared this time. The home team led by 21 points at halftime, spurred by Jalen Reynolds who scored 18 points, including a rare eurostep:

Avtodor tried to come back in the second half, but St. Petersburg was sick of losing. Reynolds finished with a tidy 24 points, seven rebounds, while fellow big men Vladislav Trushkin and Marko Simonovic combined for 33 points, knocking down eight of nine 3-pointers ala Steph and Clay:

Dunk of the week

Jalen Reynolds had a monster finish against Avtodor: 

Kalev stops Astana

The Estonian champions are in the midst of their best season in club history and have a legitimate shot at making the VTB League playoffs for the first time. They took care of business on Monday against 5th-place Astana. The Kazakhs visitors ran into trouble in the 1st quarter before falling behind by 30 points in the 3rd quarter to lose all hope of a comeback. 

“We had a chance to force our way into the battle for a top seed, but the game showed we have to return to our core principles: defense and maximum focus on every play.” Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic is determined to get his team back on track as quickly as possible. 

The loss was Astana’s biggest of the season. The visitors also had a five-game winning streak snapped. Kalev, on the other hand, won by a season-high 28 points and passed Astana in the standings for 8th place and the final playoff spot.

VEF continues to improve

Riga was stuck in last place in the autumn, but the Latvians have been one of the League’s best teams in 2019. VEF boasts five wins in its last seven outings and a four-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the League.

On Sunday, the Latvians had to work hard to take down PARMA. Perm, which has gone months without a win, started the game on fire and led almost the entire contest. Tre’ McLean was one of the stars for PARMA after returning to the club a few days earlier from Avtodor. 

VEF was aggressive from beyond the arc, but the ball was not going in the basket for most of the contest. The visitors entered the final three minutes having shot 6-24 from downtown. But the tide suddenly turned as Riga connected on three of four down the stretch to earn a comeback win. Glenn Cosey once again knocked down the decisive triple: 

With the win, VEF now trails Kalev by two and a half games and has climbed all the way from 14th to 10th place. 

“I expected a more physical game with Enisey”

Nizhny Novgorod hosted Enisey on International Women’s Day. The home team was nearly perfect in the 1st quarter, picking up a 21-point lead by the break: 

Up by as much as 29, Nizhny stumbled a bit down the stretch and finished with a 15-point victory, 79-64. Black and White head coach Zoran Lukic was surprised after the game: He’d expected a more physical game from Krasnoyarsk.

But all of the Nizhny players were overshadowed by the team mascot, which had the perfect gift for Women’s Day:

CSKA wins its first game in Zielona Gora

Even the Polish newcomers have played in the EuroLeague, CSKA had never been to Zielona Gora before Monday. Moscow lived up to expectations, finishing a few points shy of the season record for points. Zielona Gora never had a chance vs. the reigning champions in a 115-74 loss. 

The game featured a significant milestone for CSKA forward Semen Antonov, who scored his 2,000th point in the VTB League to become only the 4th player in the elite club. 

Team of the week

Sergio Rodriguez was the best player in CSKA’s win in Poland: 21 points, eight assists and a 30 efficiency rating.
VEF guard Glenn Cosey hit the decisive 3-pointer in Perm, giving Riga a win over PARMA.
Vladislav Trushkin played one of the best games of his career, knocking down five of five 3-pointers.
Arnett Moultrie was the engine for Kalev, which took down Astana: 20 points and 11 rebounds in a big game in Tallinn.
Vladimir Dragicevic nearly recorded a double-double in the game vs. Enisey: 18 points and nine rebounds.