Despite the packed schedule of on-the-road games, Astana basketball players flew to Kazan with one goal — to be rehabilitated after a series of unsuccessful games in the VTB League. But the miracle did not happen, although «Astana» and got on the hosts' nerves.
Already from the first minutes of the match, the Astana players went on the attack. And though Kazan opened the score, «Astana» did not take long to wait — Ike Udano scored 2 points. The hosts did not hurry to catch up and calmly cruised through the game, and imperceptibly for them, the first period came to an end with a score 23-27 in favor of «Astana». In the second quarter «Astana» started again actively attacking the opponent. By the middle of the period, the guests had a good advantage of +10 points. This situation clearly did not suit the hosts, and «UNICS» tried to change the game. And by the end of the period, Kazan team managed to bridge the score difference a little, but by the big break, «Astana» still remained ahead — 41:53.
In the third quarter «Astana» continued to increase the pace of their game, but the opponent began to get nervous: during the whole period the guests kept the difference of 10 points, but by the end, the hosts reduced the backlog with a score of 66:67 as the result of the third period. The final quarter of the game was the most intense. «UNICS» started the game aggressively, attacking with accurate three-pointers. But the capital club, unfortunately, began to make unforgivable mistakes, for which in the end they had to pay. In a stubborn struggle, «Astana» lost to «UNICS» with a score of 90:75.
Justin Carter became the best player of the match who scored 23 points + 5 rebounds, Malcolm Grant brought 11 points, Ike Udano — 10 points + 11 rebounds.
Head Coach of «Astana» Mikhail Karpenko:
«We did quite well in the first half, including the game in attack. It is very good to score «UNICS» more than 50 points, at the same time we defended well, Kazan had only four free throws. So we coped well on every aspect. The only problem we have identified in the locker room: the rival mercilessly punishes for losses. We had six losses after the first half and «UNICS» managed to score 11 points after them. Unfortunately, this trend continued in the second half, we made stupid losses and UNICS continued to punish us time after time. As a result of our mistakes, the rival scored 28 points. It is impossible to win a match when you do so many losses, and the rival uses it for its own good. In defense of 5 to 5, we did not look so bad, we followed the game plan and were quite competitive. But we allowed the opponent to score too many easy points. Congratulations to «UNICS» on the victory, this is a huge experience for us. We have three more games, and we still stand a chance to improve the situation and compete for the playoffs.
The next match of «Astana» within the framework of the VTB United League will be held on its court, on April 22 Astana basketball players will receive the Estonian Basketball Club «Kalev».