Kazakhstan «Astana» gained a home victory over the Russian «Khimki» — 84:79 (29:16, 17:22, 26:16, 12:25).
«Khimki» arrived in Kazakhstan with a shortened lineup. Because of injuries, 6 players at once remained at home: Sved, Robinson, Gill, Haniakatt, Zubkov, and Sokolov. As a result, Georgios Bartsokas had only10 basketball players for this game, including reservists from the youth team of Yakushin and Klyuev.
The hosts did not fail to take advantage of the personnel problems of the opponent. Teams exchanged productive attacks in the opening of the match, and then the time of «Astana» has come. The hosts, led by Leonidas Kaselakis (15 points in the first half), dominated on the court and by the seventh minute led 18 points — 20: 2.
«Khimki» has to be saved by the Slavic five: Pateev — Monya — Vialtsev — Zaitsev — Markovich. In the defense, they used the tactics of «exchanges,» and burst with throws in the attack. Between the first and second quarters, Moscow team managed to make a 10-point spurt, which was soon supported by Yegor Vialtsev with his two successful hits from behind the arc. By the big break, the lead of «Astana» was reduced more than twice — 46:38.
The hosts returned their lead in the third period. Kazakhs started with a 6-point spurt, and by the middle of the quarter had an impressive margin 11: 0. These two jerks finally made «Astana» an unconditional leader — 63:42.
The dramaturgy of this game would be incomplete without another comeback of «Khimki.» And the Moscow basketball players have not disappointed. In the final 10-minute they began to hit from behind the arc, in addition, the American legionnaires of the team became more active. With the efforts of Vyaltsev (three «three-pointers»), as well as Jenkins and Thomas (11 points for two), the guests in the last minute approached the distance of one throw — 79:76. But at that moment the players of «Astana» did not allow themselves to become limp. First, Larry Gordon found a way to rival's glass and scored with a foul, and then Malcolm Grant realized free throws, setting the final score — 84:79.
The most effective:
- «Astana»: Malcolm Grant (16), Ike Udano (16 + 6 rebounds), Leonidas Kaselakis (15 + 3 steals), Anthony Clemmons (14 + 7 rebounds + 5 assists), Larry Gordon (10 + 5 rebounds + 3 interceptions).
- «Khimki»: Egor Vyaltsev (17), Malcolm Thomas (15 + 9 rebounds), Charles Jenkins (14 + 6 assists), Vyacheslav Zaitsev (14 + 5 rebounds).
4 of 5 — «Astana» under the guidance of head coach Mikhail Karpenko gained the fourth victory in the last five matches and strengthened its position in a playoff.
Acting Head Coach of «Astana» Mikhail Karpenko:
- This was a really difficult game. Despite the fact that we led 20 points at some point, you shouldn't relax with a team like «Khimki». When we learned that the opponent has come in the incomplete lineup, and before that has had a hard game against «Milan», it was planned to start very aggressively. I'm very glad that it worked because the margin that we created allowed us to feel confident on the court. There were moments when «Khimki» overtook us, we sagged, could not score several attacks in a row, but at the same time tried to control the pace. I am very happy to win the team of the big five, this is a big step towards our goal — the playoffs.
Head coach of «Khimki» Georgios Bartsokas:
- Taking into consideration the circumstances in which we found ourselves, we must admit that this game was useful for us. Many players who do not have enough time, got a chance to prove themselves and get in shape. We had to fight with «Astana», which is a very good team and has been playing confidently at the moment.
The next match within the framework of the VTB United League of «Astana» will be held on the road, on March 18 the basketball players from Astana will meet with the Russian club «Nizhny Novgorod.»