Zenit Russia defeated Tsmoki-Minsk Belarus on the road, 82-81 (19-16, 18-17, 22-21, 23-27).
Tsmoki-Minsk: David Kravish (26 + 8 reb), Filip Adamovic (17 + 11 ast), Chris Czerapowicz (14 + 5 reb)
Zenit: Sergey Karasev (17), Evgeny Voronov (15), Kyle Kuric (15), Drew Gordon (12 + 7 reb)
Zenit allowed a nine-point lead to evaporate in the final 1:24, but held on for victory thanks to a free throw from Sergey Karasev and clutch steal from Scottie Reynolds.
Tsmoki-Minsk took advantage of miserable free-throw shooting from the visitors down the stretch, mounting a 9-0 run that took only 69 seconds and knotted the score at 81-81 with 13 second remaining.
On the following possession, Sergey Karasev drew a foul and headed to the line, where he missed the first but made the second, snapping a string of five consecutive misses from Zenit.
Minsk had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Devon Saddler had the ball stripped by Scottie Reynolds, sealing Zenit’s win on the road.
Tsmoki showed no fear against a favored Zenit team. Despite trailing most of the contest and going down by double digits in both the 2nd and 3rd quarters, solid ball movement (+9 in assists) and rebounding (+2) kept the home team around.
Trailing 72-63 early in the 4th, Minsk got a 3 from Czerapowicz, while Aliaksei Trastsinetski buried three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game.
Though the Dragons ultimately came up short, it’s easy to see why they are in 7th place in the standings and have an excellent shot at making the VTB United League postseason for the first time in club history.
Zenit, meanwhile, improves to 8-2, remaining in 4th place, half a game behind Lokomotiv-Kuban and UNICS.
Sergey Karasev. Karasev led his team with 17 points, including the biggest point of the game, his free throw with seconds left on the clock that gave Zenit a one-point lead.
20 – Tsmoki committed seven more turnovers than Zenit (13), including one in the final seconds that proved fatal.
Tsmoki-Minsk head coach Alexander Krutikov:
– We were trailing by 10 points at the end, but made a comeback and even had a chance to win. I think the reason for our loss was that we had too long of a break. We didn’t play for three weeks. It felt like we were lacking mutual understanding today. We committed a lot of turnovers in the first half. I hope we can avoid that in the future. I’d note Voronov’s terrific game. He usually makes an impact on defense, but today Evgeny showed he’s a leader and captain of the team. I think his baskets were one of the key factors in the game.
Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
– Tsmoki-Minsk is playing sharp basketball this year, especially at home. They are in 7th place in the League and I told my guys right away that it wouldn’t be easy in Minsk. We have a tough schedule and there are a lot of demands on our leaders. We tried to use a bigger rotation and that’s a big reason why we gave up so many runs. We led by more than 10 points four times, but every time we let our opponent catch up. I think luck was simply on our side today.
Tsmoki-Minsk: January 13 home vs. Enisey
Zenit: January 14 home vs. CSKA