VTB United League: Zenit stays top

VTB United LeagueIt was an engaging night of VTB United League action on Saturday as clashes brought more shape to the top of the standings after 8 rounds of games.

Zenit took control of top spot with an easy win over Loima, while Nymburk slipped on the road to a rejuvenated Krasny. Minsk edged Astana in overtime in another contest, while Avtodor downed Riga with ease at home.

Bisons Loima vs. Zenit St. Petersburg, 62-83
Zenit St. Petersburg took sole possession of first place (6-0) in the VTB United League with a stellar victory over Bisons Loima on the road. Zenit is now undefeated through six VTB games and six Eurocup games and here the Russians had far too much for their Finnish opponents. 42 points in the first half helped the guests to carve an 8 point lead at the long break and after consolidation through the third Zenit put the hosts to the sword with an 8-21 winning fourth act.

Zenit had led by as much as 21 points and cruised through this contest, with the bench providing a healthy 44 points to the victory. Artem Vikhrov led the winning effort with 21 points, while Kyle Landry added 17 points and 7 rebounds.

BC Astana vs. Tsmoki Minsk, 92-93
Astana fell at home by a single point as a dogged Tsmoki Minsk effort gave the travelling club victory in overtime and pushed the Belarussian club to 4-3 in the standings. Astana on the other hand is struggling and the club is chasing its second win of the VTB United League season from 1-5. Both teams relied on their starting five, with both sets of players grabbing 75 points and through thirty minutes Tsmoki Minsk was leading 50-61 and looked to be cruising. Astana rallied with a 27-16 run in the fourth to tie the game 77-77.

In the added frame the teams traded bucket, but the guests wrestled back the momentum and then managed to edge the victory. Anthony Hillard was sensational in the win, grabbing 37 points and 11 rebounds for an impressive double-double. Also doubling up was Ivan Maras with 23 points and 13 boards.

Avtodor Saratov vs. VEF Riga, 86-74
Avtodor brushed aside VEF Riga in Saratov to enhance its record to 4-4, while the Latvian visitors slipped to 2-6 in thirteenth place. The hosts led throughout and put together a very even game, leading by as much as 18 points and never letting VEF get close enough to cause problems. A 31-18 first quarter put Avtodor on course, and over the remainder of the game the hosts merely kept the Latvian visitors at arm’s length.

Jeffrey Brook topped the winners with 17 points and 8 rebounds.

Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd vs. CEZ Nymburk, 96-88
Krasny Oktyabr used an overtime period to down Nymburk at home as head coach Dirk Buaermann continued his revolution of the Russian club. It was a third consecutive win for the hosts as they climb the table, while surprise package Nymburk suffered its second defeat, but still holds second position in the VTB United League standings. The game was locked 85-85 and in the extra frame Nymburk faded as Krasny raced to victory.

The hosts netted 24 points in the paint during the game, while also claiming 52 rebounds compared to Nymburk’s 38. There were three double-double games for the winners. D.J. Cooper grabbed 24 points, 14 assists, and 7 rebounds, JaJaun Johnson took 25 points and 11 boards, and finally Jordan Hamilton posted 14 points and 11 rebounds.

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