Zielona Gora Poland defeated Nizhny Novgorod Russia at home, 80-72 (15-24, 18-16, 23-18, 24-14).
Zielona Gora: Zeljko Sakic (14 + 8 reb), Lukasz Koszarek (13 + 8 ast), Markel Starks (13 + 5 ast)
Nizhny Novgorod: Ivan Strebkov (22 + 10 ast), Ilya Popov (17)
Zielona Gora overcame a slow start to knock off Nizhny Novgorod at home and secure its first VTB League win at home.
The Poles trailed by nine at the end of the 1st quarter, 24-15, and played catch-up throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
The turning point came late in the 3rd. Down 58-52, Zielona Gora scored the final four points of the period, before opening the 4th on an 8-0 run. Gabe DeVoe drained a triple and threw down a dunk, while Sakic added a 3-pointer.
The visitors didn’t go away, fighting back to tie the game at 69-69 on Sergey Toropov’s layup at the 4:45 mark.
But Zielona Gora would not let this one slip away. Markel Starks and Lukasz Koszarek hit huge 3-pointers to put the home team up five, 75-70. Nizhny Novgorod had plenty of chances down the stretch, but couldn’t convert, allowing the Poles to record an 80-72 win.
Nizhny was led by Ivan Strebkov and Ilya Popov, who combined for 39 points on 14-24 shooting. But no one else had much success. The visitors shot 8-30 from beyond the arc and only took 10 free throws, converting seven.
For Zielona Gora, offensive balance was the name of the game. Seven different players scored eight or more points, led by Zeljko Sakic’s 14.
The guard duo of Markel Starks and Lukasz Koszarek was the biggest factor in the win. Both hit huge triples down the stretch and combined for 13 assists.
Zielona Gora head coach Igor Jovovic: “we’re very happy to pick up our second win in a tough VTB League. We couldn’t stop Ivan Strebkov in the first half, and lost control of the game in the end. In the second half, our American guards made a huge difference. We started hitting from beyond the arc and grabbing big rebounds. This is our second win in seven days, which I’m very happy about.”
Nizhny Nivgorod head coach Zoran Lukic: “We looked good until the 3rd quarter. But Odom was playing his first game since returning from injury and Czerapowicz his second. Plus, we lost two key players: Perry and Dragicevic. It’s difficult to win in such conditions. But it’s not an excuse. We’ve already lost four games like this. We really missed Dragicevic. He would have really helped us today. But he broke his finger. We continue to battle.”