VTB United League: Nymburk goes top

VTB United LeagueTwo games opened Round 6 of the 2015/2016 VTB United League and it was a huge Saturday for CEZ Nymburk as the Czech club took sole possession of first place in the standings. That dominance at the top of the VTB United table will be fleeting, as other teams are expected to join Nymburk on 5-1 tonight, but nevertheless the league position is stark testament to how far CEZ Nymburk has come.

CEZ Nymburk is a constant winner of the Czech NBL title, having claimed the league crown for the last 12 title and the last 11 Czech Cups. In its home nation the club reigns supreme, but in the VTB United League Nymburk has been forced to eschew its usual dominance in favour of being an also ran, competing against the might of Russian teams, and particularly CSKA Moscow, who have won six out of seven editions of the VTB competition.

The 2015/2016 campaign is proving to be fruitful for Nymburk, a break out season in the VTB United League if you want, and through five games it seems that the club is putting together more than a lucky run. With each passing round, and victory, CEZ Nymburk increasingly becomes a genuine contender. How long can it last? Perhaps those within the club are asking the same question, but at the moment CEZ Nymburk is mixing it with the elite of the competition.

CEZ Nymburk vs. VEF Riga, 73-71
On Saturday, Nymburk was made to work hard for top spot in the VTB United League, as Riga put together arguably its best road performance of the season, but the Latvians ultimately still came up short. Much of Nymburk’s success comes from the starting five, and maybe more success this season will hinge on those five players staying fit and more importantly, in form.

Against Riga, Nymburk’s starting group plundered 60 points while the bench managed just 13 points, but in a game where VEF led by as much as 12 points, the whole Nymburk team contributed. The hosts had carved a 21-17 first quarter lead, but Riga found a scoring rhythm in the second and drained 24 points on the way to a 36-41 lead at halftime. The visitors’ ascendancy did not last long as the Czech champs used a 19-15 run in the third to make it 55-56 through thirty minutes, and then carried the momentum to edge the fourth and win the game.

Howard Sant-Roos pummeled the bucket to the tune of 29 points to lead the winners, while he also added 8 rebounds. Chasson Randle followed with 12 points and Maxime De Zeeuw was good for 11 points.

Ludvig Hakanson paced the losing effort with 19 points, while Guillem Rubio put together the only double-double of the game with 11 points and 13 boards.

Tsmoki Minsk vs. Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd, 77-81
After a dire start to the season, Krasny Oktyabr tabbed seasoned tactician Dirk Bauermann as head coach, and while he was on board too early to stop defeat last week, the club collected its second VTB United League win of the season on Saturday, and Bauermann’s first at the helm. Tsmoki Minsk were the victims and it seems the champs from Belarus are season their early season form drip away.

The hosts took an early lead, but Krasny snatched it back early in the first frame and from there led for the entire game, despite Minsk never letting the Russian visitors pull away. Indeed, the home team actually scored 49 points in the second half while the Volgograd contingent could manage just 36 points. However, Tsmoki Minsk paid for a collapse in the second frame that saw Krasny Oktyabr take the act 13-27.

Jordan Hamilton hit 23 points for Krasny, while he double up by adding 12 rebounds. Andrei Mateyunas hit 12 points in success, followed by JaJuan Johnson with 10 points.

Anthony Hillard scored 20 points for Tsmoki Minsk, while Brank Mirkovic hit 18 points and Garret Stutz claimed 17 points and 9 rebounds.

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