Week 9 In Review: UNICS Storms St. Petersburg, Astana Shocks Krasnodar, Bolomboy’s Dunk Of The Year

Week 9 In Review: UNICS Storms St. Petersburg, Astana Shocks Krasnodar, Bolomboy’s Dunk Of The Year

The biggest stories from the first week of December.

UNICS slams the brakes on Zenit

The showdown of the week–Zenit vs. UNICS–lived up to the hype. Kazan wanted revenge for last season’s loss in the Final Four bronze medal game. St. Petersburg hoped to extend its five-game winning streak and simultaneously test out new signing Codi Miller-McIntyre. The game was even billed as the Battle on the Neva. 

The contest entertained from start to finish. UNICS built a lead in the first three quarters, but Zenit kept it close, thanks to plays like this:

But the two teams saved the best for last. Courtesy of a 10-0 run, Zenit erased everything UNICS had worked so hard to build throughout the game. And with 90 seconds remaining, the unstoppable Jalen Reynolds gave Zenit its first lead since midway through the 1st quarter with another dunk. 

The win, however, ultimately belonged to UNICS. Trailing by one point, Zenit had 20 seconds and possession following a timeout, but Philip Scrubb threw the ball away, failing to see a cutting Sergey Karasev. Final score: UNICS 77, Zenit 74.

Shocker of the week – in Krasnodar

After Zenit’s loss, Loko had a chance to take over 4th place in the standings, needing a win vs. Astana at home. Early on, Loko appeared on its way to victory. The home team won the first half, while Jamel McLean scored 12 points in the 1st quarter alone.

Astana surprised everyone out of the break. The visitors began by taking the lead in the 3rd quarter, before blitzing Lokomotiv by 17 points in the 4th!

Krasnodar’s offense sputtered in the second half and the defense had no answer for Anthony Clemmons, who scored a career-high 30 points and finished with a double-double (30 + 10 reb), helping Astana record its second big upset of the season: 90-71. 

Bolomboy puts on a show in League debut

CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis started Joel Bolomboy in the game vs. Enisey, giving the naturalized center his VTB League debut. He was outstanding: 22 points, 8-8 from the field, 6-6 from the line and eight rebounds, including six on the offensive glass.

But this dunk–ala Dwight Howard at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game–made the biggest impression.

Give Krasnoyarsk credit. They created a ton of problems for the Army Men, including a barrage of 3-pointers in the 1st quarter to take an early lead.

CSKA responded in the 2nd quarter, but Enisey only trailed by four at halftime. The second half, however, was a different story. CSKA cruised to a ninth-straight win (101-71) and moved back into 1st place. Nando De Colo was happy to share a little French magic along the way:

Khimki wins in Poland without Shved and Gill

Khimki went on the road to Zielona Gora without its two biggest stars, but overwhelmed the opposition in the opening 20 minutes, knocking down 11 3-pointers to take a 21-point lead. 

Lukasz Koszarek was the only one with an answer for the home team, knocking down two shots at the buzzer in the first half:

During the second half, Zielona Gora caught Khimki napping, trimming a 30-point deficit to 12 thanks to a 22-4 run. Egor Vyaltsev made sure the Polish comeback ended there: Three straight 3-pointers in the 4th quarter put the game out of reach as Khimki went on to win, 97-74. 

Avtodor emerges with a win at the Volga block party

Avtodor and Nizhny Novgorod combined for one of the most exciting games of the week: fast-break dunks, coast-to-coast action and ferocious blocks. 

Everything started with an exchange of blocks: Evgeny Baburin swatted David Kravish, despite giving up 20 cm, before Kendrick Perry stopped Anthony Ireland’s drive to the basket. Saratov responded with two blocks on one possession, courtesy of Zabelin and Kvitkovsky. 

Nizhny Novgorod had some big plays, but Avtodor mostly dominated from start to finish, winning on the road by 23 (98-75). Nikita Mikhailovsky was one of the keys to Saratov’s success, scoring a career high: 

Quote of the Week

“I don’t know if I need to even comment on a game like this. I’m sorry our fans had to watch this game,” – Zoran Lukic did not make excuses for Nizhny Novgorod’s big loss.

Kalev improves its playoff chances

Kalev Estonia defeated PARMA Perm at home, 93-82. Tallinn was in control most of the game, grabbing the lead early in the 2nd quarter and maintaining an 8-10-point lead the rest of the way. Ex-Sixers forward Arnett Moultrie impressed in his Kalev debut, recording 16 points, nine rebounds and this dunk:

PARMA was decent from beyond the arc (10 3-pointers), but came up a little short in the paint.

Kalev moved back into the top eight after Week 6 and now has a grip on 7th place. Could this Kalev roster give the club its first-ever playoff appearance? 

Tsmoki wins first home game

Minsk continues to work on building a team, as head coach Aliaksandr Krutsikau shared following a hard-fought win over VEF, 91-84. The win was Tsmoki’s first at home and allowed the Belarusians to escape last place in the standings. 

There was nothing easy about the win. VEF won the 1st quarter and led for a long time in the 2nd. Perhaps Stefan Moody’s eye-opening block of VEF big man Andrejs Grazulis got his team going?

All-Star Game voting starts

At the very end of the week, the League opened up fan voting for the 3rd All-Star Game on social media. Fans have four weeks to vote for their favorite players, before passing the baton to the media.

Team of the Week