All the news from around the League over the past seven days.
Near sensation. Greek drama in Khimki and Udanoh’s misses
The game in Khimki made it clear there’s no love lost between these two yellow-blue teams. Astana almost tripped up undefeated Khimki, a week ahead of Moscow Region’s showdown with CSKA. For its part, Khimki sent the Kazakhs home empty-handed, preventing Astana from recording its first win of the season.
Astana nearly completed the upset. Trailing 72-71 and two seconds on the clock, Ike Udanoh was fouled on a layup attempt. Averaging less than 50% at the line on the season, the 28-year-old American forward missed both, sending his team to a heart-breaking defeat.
Size means nothing. Saratov’s Isaiah Thomas starting to roll
When Avtodor signed the 174-cm Justin Robinson, head coach Andrea Mazzon highlighted the young American’s competitiveness and desire.
“The most important thing isn’t how tall you are, it’s how well you play.”
Saratov’s Justin Robinson is on the rise, quickly proving he deserves a spot in the starting lineup. His stats have improved every time out. After 12 points and two assists vs. Enisey, he put up 15 + 4 against CSKA and 21 + 6 vs. Kalev. Robinson wasn’t just productive over the weekend, he also had several clutch plays down the stretch to guide Avtodor to victory.
The season is only a few weeks old, so expect Robinson to keep getting better. The diminutive playmaker wants to be a star in the League.
Dose of reality. Loko put Nizhny Novgorod in its place
Nizhny knew playing in Krasnodar wouldn’t be easy, but head coach Zoran Lukic probably expected his team to at least keep it close.
“Here’s what I’ll say. There will be two bald Serbian heads tomorrow on the sidelines that will make the court in Krasnodar glisten. We’ll see which one wins!”
Nizhny Novgorod didn’t even come close. Instead, Loko made the court glisten, executing in every facet of the game to pick up a 94-64 win. Krasnodar put Nizhny in its place, though Lukic is optimistic the defeat will help motivate his men.
“I want to congratulate Loko on a deserved win. They put us in our place. I’d say it came at the right time.”
Pressure in Minsk. Free throw misses helped Tsmoki win
Tsmoki and Parma played one of the best games of the season. Trailing by 16 points in the first half, Perm came roaring back and even took the lead in the final minutes. And that was only the beginning.
Thanks to a pair of layups from Devon Saddler and Filip Adamovic, Tsmoki regained a 66-63 lead. Then things got wacky. Tsmoki and Parma earned a combined six free throws down the stretch, but somehow missed all six! For the game, both teams shot less than 50% from the line. Despite giving Parma multiple chances to come back and win, Tsmoki somehow survived, picking up a 66-65 victory to improve to 2-2.
Russian Abdul-Jabbar. Vitaly Fridzon’s 200th game in the League and other stats
CSKA guard Vitaly Fridzon played his 200th game in the VTB United League on Monday vs. VEF. Fridzon is also the all-time leading scorer in the League, making him the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the VTB United League. The former Bucks and Lakers legend is the all-time leading scorer in the NBA and 2nd in games played behind Robert Parrish.
Alexey Shved has some work to do to catch Fridzon, but he did play his 100th game against Astana. The leading scorer at EuroBasket 2017 put on a show, scoring Khimki’s final seven points to help rescue a win.
Another League star, CSKA’s Sergio Rodriguez didn’t fare as well. Though the Army Men cruised against Riga, El Chacho went 1-9 from the field.