Two games closed out Round 22 of the 2015-16 regular season in the VTB United League. Fans were treated to some outstanding basketball action. One outcome was expected while the other, an eye-opening surprise. The league’s leader, CSKA Moscow notched its 22nd win after a dominant 78-105 road win over BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn. One of the more surprising results of the round came in the form of an upset victory by 15th-placer VEF Riga (6-15) over sixth placer CEZ Nymburk (11-9), 81-73. CSKA Moscow is already assured of a seat to the playoffs at this point. The same cannot be said about CEZ Nymburk. There is now added pressure on them to preserve their Top 8 position in the standings as the teams in the middle of the pack will be making their pushes to end with strong finishes for the regular season.
A lot of credit goes to the Latvian club for their impressive display of defensive intensity and focus throughout the game. The hosts outscored their heavily favored guests by five points in what was an arguably high scoring first quarter, 25-20. Josh Harrellson took control of the game for VEF Riga in the first half. He scored 14 of his 25 points in the first half. He was one rebound shy of a double-double with nine rebounds. His scoring leadership allowed his team to improve their lead to 42-30 at halftime.
Despite turning the ball over seven more times than CEZ Nymburk, VEF Riga compensated by out-hustling them on the glass. VEF Riga pulled down 43 rebounds compared to CEZ Nymburk’s 25. 11 of those 43 boards were offensive rebounds and their second-chance points kept them ahead.
CEZ Nymburk made a final push in the final period and cut into VEF Riga’s lead, but Josh Harrellson helped stem the tide and his team was able to hold on for the win.
Michael Dixon was the top scorer for CEZ Nymburk. He finished with 20 points and six rebounds. He led three other teammates to score in double figures.
Here are the other results for Round 22:
Tsmoki-Minsk vs. Krasny Oktyabr, 80-96
Enisey vs. Avtodor, 88-92
Lokomotiv vs. Vita Tbilisi, 121-71
Khimky vs. Nizhny Novgorod, 74-82
Unics vs. Bisons Loima, 110-56