It took a fifth and final, deciding game, but in the end BC Nizhny Novgorod prevailed over Zenit Saint Petersburg 75-65 to advance to the VTB United League semifinals. It was the only quarterfinals series that was not resolved with a sweep and the exciting competition between these two clubs did not disappoint. Now that Nizhny Novgorod has successfully tackled this postseason hurdle, they brace themselves as they move on to face the regular season league champs, CSKA Moscow in the Final Four stage.
As expected, the Saint Petersburg club came out with tenacity as they defended their home turf. The hosts quickly opened the first four minutes of the game with a 9-0 run as their guests struggled to find their shot from both in the paint and beyond the three-point arc. It didn’t take Nizhny Novgorod too long to notch their first points on the scoreboard and find their groove. And just like that, the fans in attendance in St. Petersburg had a game on to thoroughly enjoy. The white shirts narrowed the lead and found themselves down just by one point, 16-15, at the end of the first frame.
Gal Mekel orchestrated the offense for Nizhny Novgorod in the second period, but the young Zenit squad was not to be outdone too soon and too easily. When the whistle signalling that the first half came to an end was blown the score stood at an even 32-32.
After the break, Tarence Kinsey began to dominate on offense for the visitors and he provided the spark his team needed to slowly pull away with a five-point edge with one final quarter remaining in regulation. With the series on the line, Nizhny Novgorod’s composure and experience shined through in the end.
Tarence Kinsey was the star for Nizhny Novgorod in this game, finishing with a game-high 22 points. He shot 7-of-13 from two-point range and drained 2-of-3 shots from downtown. Fellow import Taylor Rochestie stepped up with 12 points off the bench. Dmitry Kulagin and Evgeny Valiev led Zenit with 19 and 16 points, respectively.