Week 28 Recap

UNICS takes down Lokomotiv, Zenit holds off Nizhny Novgorod and more in VTB-League.com's Week 28 recap.

UNICS practically guaranteed the second seed in the playoffs by knocking off Lokomotiv-Kuban at home, 80-76. Kazan's 3-point shooting in the second half had a huge impact on the outcome. The UNICS snipers connected on nine 3-pointers after halftime, splitting open Kuban's vaunted defense. There's a good chance these two elite defensive teams will meet again in the semifinals, where the Tatar club is virtually guaranteed to have home-court advantage.

CSKA has already clinched the top seed and traveled to Minsk without stars Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo, relying on its depth to secure a win in the Belarusian capital. Tsmoki made it tough, keeping within striking distance in the first half, before scoring 33 points on eight 3-pointers in the 3rd quarter! But Moscow's experience and clutch play down the stretch decided the outcome, giving Dimitris Itoudis's club an 83-81 win.

Zenit only debuted in the VTB United League last season, but has already laid the foundation for a rivalry with Nizhny Novgorod. Last season, the Volga club eliminated St. Petersburg in an epic five-game series, then did it again this season, knocking Zenit out of the Eurocup.

Zenit took revenge on Sunday, countering 28 points from Dmitry Khvostov with depth and balance. The home team emerged with a 77-76 win, the team's 17th of the season.

Nizhny is at risk of playing CSKA in the first round, while Zenit could still finish as high as 3rd place in the league.

Fan of the Week

Khimki has rebounded since signing Dusko Ivanovic as head coach. On Sunday, Moscow Region made it 15 straight wins vs. VEF, cruising to a 10-point win. The visitors got off to a hot start, knocking down eight 3's in the 1st quarter, and went on to win, 89-79. Winners of three straight, Khimki is still in the hunt for 3rd place.

Competitive Fire
Despite being eliminated from playoff elimination, Enisey and Kalev put on a show Sunday. David Kennedy had a monster game for Krasnoyarsk, putting up 18 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and drawing 10 fouls in regulation to help force overtime. Playing at home, Denis Zakharov and Artem Yakovenko led Enisey to victory in the extra period (97-90).

"We played an inconsistent game. There were a lot of swings." Avtodor head coach Vladimir Antsiferov commented on the unusual nature of the game with Krasny Oktyabr. Trailing by 16 early in the 2nd quarter, Saratov stormed back to take the lead by halftime. Avtodor went on to lead by as much as 20 in the 4th quarter, before Volgograd very nearly charged back for victory!
In the end, Saratov secured a 102-95 victory, the team's eighth in a row, tops in the league.

Deja Vu
Vita won its first game of the season last week, but had no chance in Nymburk on Tuesday. Ronen Ginzburg's club led from start to finish, crushing the Georgian visitors, 111-51. Nymburk also won by 60 earlier in the season in Tbilisi.

Sputtering Start
Tsmoki-Minsk and Lokomotiv-Kuban needed three and a half minutes to score a single point on Sunday. The Belarusians finally broke the ice, but Kuban shot back with a 13-0 run to go up double digits in the 1st quarter. Loko maintained control the rest of the way, picking up a comfortable 75-60 win to remain in pole position for 3rd place.

Astana and Enisey played for the second time in two weeks. Krasnoyarsk won big at home (+26), but faced a much stiffer challenge in the Kazakh capital. In the end, however, Oleg Okulov's club was able to swing the momentum in its favor and win, 80-73.

Stat of the Week
80 - Zenit guard Ryan Toolson's shooting percentage vs. Kalev.

Toolson couldn't miss, sparking Zenit to a 20-point lead in the opening period. He finished the game 8-10 from the field (6-7 from outside) and 9-9 from the line to score 31 points. Not surprisingly, Zenit cruised to victory, 101-69.

MVP of the Week
David Kennedy (Enisey). Kennedy helped Enisey win twice in Week 28 (vs. Kalev and Astana) and tighten its grip on 9th place. The forward averaged a double-double (17.0 points and 10.5 rebounds) to go with 5.5 assists and a 24.5 efficiency rating.

UNICS forward Kostas Kaimakoglou:
- We didn't think about the fact that we could guarantee 2nd place in the game with Lokomotiv. Of course, we wanted to be in that spot at the end of the regular season, but it won't mean anything in the postseason. Everything starts over there and we need to be in the best shape possible for the elimination games. It's going to be a battle in the playoffs, against every team and in every game.

The game against Loko was very intense but the teams tried to play physical basketball, and it couldn't have been any other way. This type of game suits me.

Play of the Week

Photo of the Week