On and off the court, here are the biggest stories from Week 7.
Shved sits, but Khimki wins
Alexey Shved, Khimki’s biggest star, missed the home game vs. Avtodor due to illness. But the coaching staff adjusted as Moscow Region picked up its 8th win of the season.
Defense was the key. Avtodor entered averaging more than 90 points per game, but had to settle for 77 on Sunday. Khimki also had a few tricks up its sleeve on offense, which worked to devastating effect.
Найдите 5 отличий 👀
Find 5 Differences 👀 pic.twitter.com/i0ikebmk7v
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) November 18, 2018
Avtodor occasionally threatened, especially in the 4th quarter. But Khimki took care of business, 85-77. With the victory, Khimki remains unbeaten this season. The Yellow and Blue last won eight in a row during February and March 2017.
Saratov has started the season slow (2-4), but everything could change soon. Dusan Alimpijevic is the new head coach. Only 32, he’s already coached in the EuroLeague at Crvena Zvezda and interned with the Dallas Mavericks at the NBA Summer League in July.
📣 ДУШАН АЛИМПИЕВИЧ ВОЗГЛАВИЛ «АВТОДОР»
«Автодор» определился с кандидатурой главного тренера. Им стал 32-летний сербский специалист Душан АЛИМПИЕВИЧ, в минувшем сезоне одержавший с «Црвеной Звездой» 11 побед в 30 матчах @EuroLeague.
— BC Avtodor Saratov (@AvtodorSaratov) November 19, 2018
Kalev literally clears a path to SIBUR Arena
Kalev traveled to St. Petersburg to play Zenit, but found themselves blocked by an illegally parked Lada on the way to the arena. No worries. The players found an easy solution to the dilemma.
From what we know, nobody bothered putting the Lada back.
Kalev didn’t get a chance, however, to flex its muscles on the court. Zenit continued its climb to the top of the standings after two losses to begin the season. In Brandon Jennings’ absence, Vasily Karasev was forced to go big and the tactic worked. Vladislav Trushkin (4-6 on 3-pointers) and Evgeny Valiev (5-5 from the field) were the X-factors for Zenit, 100-87.
Jalen Reynolds, meanwhile, was the most effective player on the court for Zenit. He recorded a 17+7. With his vicious dunks and new hair cut, the American center looks a lot like NBA champion Ben Wallace.
“We were just a group of guys today”
Nizhny Novgorod head coach Zoran Lukic won the award for best quote of the week, calling his team a “group of guys” in the game vs. UNICS.
You can understand where he’s coming from. Back in May, Nizhny gave UNICS all it could handle in the playoffs, nearly forcing a Game 5. On Saturday, they lost by 25 points.
UNICS once again was ruthless on defense, allowing fewer than 70 points for the 4th time in seven games. Kazan was also effective on offense, highlighted by Anton Ponkrashov’s playmaking:
CSKA’s new record
Tsmoki-Minsk traveled to Moscow to play the reigning champions. Despite being heavy underdogs, the Dragons only trailed by seven, 54-47, at the break and outscored CSKA in the 2nd quarter.
The Army Men needed to crank up the intensity in the 2nd half. No problem. CSKA finished with 119 points, a new season-best in the VTB League, and won easily by 31.
— CSKA Moscow (@cskabasket) November 18, 2018
CSKA also got a chance to display some tiki-taka on the basketball court:
The prize for best fan also belongs to Moscow:
— CSKA Moscow (@cskabasket) November 19, 2018
Not one, not two, not three…
Loko made up for past mistakes by finally winning in the Basket Hall. PARMA opened the game with a 1st-quarter lead and tried desperately to keep the score close in the 2nd half. But Perm was unable to match Kalev’s heroics, going down to a 93-75 defeat.
Jamel McLean was the motor for Lokomotiv, recording a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds and a perfect shooting line. Of course, it’s hard to miss when you do most of your scoring by dunking:
Road-weary Zielona Gora crumbles in Krasnoyarsk
Zielona Gora could not defeat Enisey on the road, 109-81. Krasnoyarsk played one of its best games in recent years, missing a club record by only three points.
Enisey’s head coach was very gracious in his post-game quotes: “I think the final score was the result of Zielona Gora’s demanding travel. Our opponent did not show what it can do. If they had been fresher from the trip, the game would have been more challenging.
As a reminder, it’s nearly 6,000 kilometers from Zielona Gora to Krasnoyarsk.
Alexander Zhigulin returns Astana to the win column
Astana continues to surprise, boasting an above .500 record and sharing 5th place with Lokomotiv-Kuban. On Monday, the Kazakhs defeated VEF in Riga in sensational fashion. Leading by one, 65-64, at the start of the 4th, Astana went on to win 93-71.
Alexander Zhigulin was one of the keys to the win. The Kazakh forward set new career highs in points (23), 3-pointers (5) and efficiency rating (23).
Astana's forward Alexander Zhigulin sets career-high 23 PTS (5/7 from deep) vs today vs VEF! pic.twitter.com/Nv3XextVoT
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) November 19, 2018
Zhigulin only scored in double digits twice during the previous three seasons. He’s done so three times already in 2018. The forward earned his spot on the Team of the Week in Week 7.
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⭐ Пиеррия Хенри, Джон Роберсон, Александр Жигулин, Энтони Гилл и Джамел Маклин – в символической пятерке седьмой игровой недели ⠀ ⭐ Pierria Henry, @j.r.flurry, @alexandr_zhigulin, @anthonygill.13 and @jamelmclean1 select to All-VTB League Team of the Week #7⠀ #vtbleague #seasonx #лигавтб
📊 Турнирная таблица по итогам седьмой недели «регулярки»
📊 Standings after Week #7 pic.twitter.com/4mVT9XBSys
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) November 20, 2018