Saturday’s action in the VTB United League saw Nizhny Novgorod slip up at home to a refreshed Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd to give CEZ Nymburk the chance to grab sole possession of first place on Sunday evening. In the other contest of the night, VEF Riga and Astana put together a thrilling contest that had high scores and even went right to the wire.
Nizhny Novgorod vs. Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd, 87-90
Nizhny Novgorod (5-2) had the chance to claim possession of first place in the VTB United League standings, but slipped instead to Dirk Bauremann’s improving Krasny Oktyabr. Nizhny’s loss means CEZ Nymburk can move to the top of the table with victory on Sunday evening, while Krasny moves up to mid-table on 3-4.
Despite the lead changing eight times during the game, Nizhny could never get a foothold on the contest and only ever led by as much as one point. Krasny on the other hand looked well organized, especially the starters, who combined for 69 of the guests points. The visitors led by as much as 12 points and through halftime took a 37-47 lead into the locker room. Nizhny played catch up in the third frame, but could never quite swing the momentum into a substantial lead, and in the fourth act Krasny pulled away for good.
Jordan Hamilton provided the scoring impetus for the winners, nailing 28 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. D.J. Copper was also in sensational touch, securing 20 points and 13 assists for a huge double-double, while his 8 boards ensured he walked away with the game MVP.
Victor Rudd kept Nizhny ticking with 24 points and 8 rebounds, while Ivan Srebkov and Kaspers Berzins managed 15 points apiece.
VEF Riga vs. Astana, 94-93
Astana put together a huge second half fightback in the Latvian capital city, but ultimately fell a single bucket short of overturning Riga in the TVB United League. The victory was Riga’s second in the league this season (2-5), while Astana remains with just a single victory this campaign (1-5).
Riga’s roster were balanced and points spread amongst the team, with the bench contributing a healthy 44 points on top of the 50 points provided by the starters. Astana on the other hand relied on the five players who started the game, with those contributing a massive 82 points to the team cause. Considering the hosts had led by 23 points, they will feel happy to finally emerge unscathed, but Astana too can take something from this game thanks to that spirited fightback. Through halftime Riga led 62-41, but a 15-27 third act and 17-25 fourth meant that down the stretch the teams were fighting for the one shot that would win the game.
Francisco Cruz plundered 21 points in victory, while Guillem Rubio added 16 points and 8 rebounds.
Kenneth Hayes fuelled the Astana comeback with 30 points, while Patrick Calathes had a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds.