The biggest stories from the past seven days.
De Colo dominates in Krasnodar
CSKA in Krasnodar is always an event and Sunday’s game (which many hyped as the biggest game in November) was no exception. Every storyline proved intriguing.
Siblings Mikhail and Dmitry Kulagin created plenty of problems for each other. The Loko guard scored only two of his 18 points against his brother, while the CSKA guard only managed three. These guys are competitive to the extreme and you could see the intensity every time they were matched up against each other.
Vitaly Fridzon started against his old team, scored 12 points and didn’t miss a single shot in 22 minutes. The ex-Army Man was perfect from beyond the arc (2-2), in the mid-range (2-2) and at the free-throw line (2-2) to go with two steals and two assists.
Loko interim head coach Vladimir Jovanovic surprised his opponents (and everyone else) by starting an almost 100% Russian lineup with the exception of JaJuan Johnson at center. The Loko starters ended up scoring more than their CSKA counterparts (47-44).
— LOKO ЛокомотивКубань (@lokobasket) November 11, 2018
But all of this was secondary to Nando De Colo’s monster performance. The CSKA guard played his best game so far in the VTB League’s Season X: 30 points and 6-6 from downtown, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and a 39 efficiency rating. The Army Men couldn’t lose with De Colo at that level.
Even a rowdy Krasnodar crowd didn’t help, with De Colo ignoring their advice at the free-throw line.
View this post on Instagram
❤💚 Сектор Активной Поддержки реализовал изящный план, как помешать сопернику бросать штрафные броски: фальшивый щит прямо за кольцом и стрелки, указывающие куда на самом деле надо целить мячом. Спасибо, @fans_lokobasket, это было смешно 😆 #lokobasket #lokofamily #lokonation
Loko lost its third game in six outings and now shares 5th place with Astana. CSKA has yet to lose, both in the VTB League and EuroLeague.
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) November 11, 2018
Shved as a Simpsons character, Khimki stays undefeated
While CSKA and Loko duked it out, Khimki star Alexey Shved was transformed into a Simpsons character:
View this post on Instagram
Наш новый уникальный проект: Звезды Лиги, какими вы их еще не видели! Пишите в комментарии фамилии игроков и мультфильмы, с которыми они у вас ассоциируются, а мы будем воплощать в жизнь ваши идеи 💬 ⠀ Our new project: VTB League Stars, likes of which you have never seen! Write 👇 players and associated cartoons 💬⠀ #vtbleague #seasonx #лигавтб #simpsons #vtbleaguestars
The League is giving fans a chance to see their favorite players in a totally new light. It’s really easy. Write your favorite VTB League player and the name of a cartoon in the comments and we’ll bring the mash-up to life.
Getting back to the court, Shved and Khimki continued their perfect start to the season.The Yellow and blue finally beat VEF at home on Monday. Why finally? Riga was riding a two-game winning streak in Moscow Region entering this contest.
Determined not to repeat past mistakes, Khimki treated the game with extreme respect and literally never gave VEF a chance. Riga barely reached 50 points in a lopsided defeat.
Alexey Shved (16 PTS) and Jordan Mickey (13 PTS + 17 REB) combined for 29 as Khimki beat VEF at home, 75-51 ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/o04XCa5d64
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) November 12, 2018
Jordan Mickey was the star for Khimki: 13 points, 17 rebounds (new season-best in the League), three blocks and a dunk that’s headed for the Week 6 Top 10.
Tsmoki overcomes odds to notch 1st win
The Minsk Dragons have had a tough start to the season, entering Week 6 as the only team in the League without a win. Over the course of the month, Tsmoki also parted ways with one of its new signings (Darrin Govens moved to Nizhny Novgorod), brought back Devon Saddler and used three different starting lineups in five games.
Minsk was on the road for almost 24 hours en route to Saratov. The team was delayed by thick fog in Minsk and didn’t make it to its destination until six hours before tip-off. Making matters worse, center Aliaksandr Semianiuk hurt his hand a day earlier.
History was also not on Tsmoki’s side. Tsmoki had never defeated Avtodor on the road and entered the game with a 1-7 record all-time vs. Saratov.
Against all odds, Minsk left Saratov with a much-deserved victory. They needed big games from Stefan Moody (21 points) and Zisis Sarikopulous (18 points). Avtodor failed to take advantage of David Kravish’s double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds), even though the American center would have loved to beat his former team.
Stefan Moody (21 PTS, 6 AST) and Zisis Sarikopoulos (18 PTS, 9 REB) combine for 39 PTS as Tsmoki beat Avtodor on the road, 99-95 ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/prwdv36P4D
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) November 10, 2018
One day after the defeat, Avtodor head coach Sergei Mokin resigned. Vladimir Antsiferov is now in charge of the team.
Ivan Strebkov: Nizhny’s Superman
Astana is a very talented team this season, with wins already vs. Zenit and Zielona Gora. The Kazakh club was hoping for another scalp in Nizhny Novgorod, but Black and White guard Ivan Strebkov had other plans.
The Nizhny star scored 21 points in the 1st half, before setting a new career-high in the 3rd quarter.
Ivan Strebkov added nine assists to his 25 points as Nizhny Novgorod dished out a season-best 22 dimes:
Today Nizhny Novgorod set a team season high for assists (22) ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/ANi5gzuao7
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) November 10, 2018
Astana still had a chance to win, but turned the ball over on a crucial in-bounds play in the final minute.
Sergey Karasev puts Zenit in the Top 5, Reynolds with more Showtime
St. Petersburg began the season with back-to-back losses with Sergey Karasev suffering an injury in the opener. Since Karasev returned, however, Zenit has won three in a row.
After scoring seven points vs. VEF and 13 against Enisey, Karasev broke through with 24 points on 50% shooting to go with four assists in a win over PARMA.
Jalen Reynolds keeps wowing the fans with rim-rattling dunks.
UNICS chasing Khimki and CSKA
In recent seasons, UNICS has had a lot in common with the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. Both teams prefer taking care of business while staying out of the media spotlight. While Zenit and Loko have already dropped games to mid-level clubs, Kazan has avoided any upsets.
The game in Krasnoyarsk was no exception. UNICS took the lead on the 1st possession and never trailed in the contest. The visitors led by as much as 23 and nearly scored 100 points, setting a new season-high for points.
Enisey guard Denis Zakharov’s team may have lost, but he finished with the play of the game, throwing down a vicious slam in the lane. Enisey will be back.
Spoiler: Zakharov’s dunk was the #1 play in this week’s Top 10
36-year-old Branko Mirkovic gives Kalev a boost vs. Zielona Gora
Zielona Gora has the best three-point defense in the League, allowing a measly 29.3% from beyond the arc. Kalev was no exception, shooting 0-8 from downtown in the 1st quarter. Branko Mirkovic, however, got hot before halftime, knocking down two triples, before draining three free throws with a second remaining.
Zielona Gora still had a chance to win, leading by six with two minutes to go. But Kalev stormed back with an 11-0 run to pick up a big victory at home.
Branko Mirkovic was unquestionably the best player in the game: 18 points, eight assists (season best), six rebounds (season best), four steals (season best) and only three minutes on the bench. The 36-year-old veteran is the second-oldest player in the League (behind only Tsmoki’s 38-year-old Aliaksandr Kudrautsau) has played at least 37 minutes in three of Kalev’s last four games.
Team of the Week
Week 6 Standings