Kazakhstan «Astana» won at home Latvian «VEF» with a score 90:77 (25:20, 24:16, 15:24, 26:17).
Two long-distance hits by JJ O'Brien allowed Astana to seize the initiative in the very first minutes. The home team looked pretty confident in attack: another shot from the paint by O'Brien, a pair of successful attacks by Stephen Holt and domination on the glass (8 points of “second chance”) allowed the yellow-blue to score 10 points — 23:13.
The players of Riga managed to pick up the game due to the courage of Andrew Andrews and the efficient play of the «big' ones. “Astana” had its response to this. At a difficult moment, Michael Jenkins took the lead. The guard scored 13 points in the second quarter and returned to the hosts a comfortable score gap — 49:36.
The third quarter began with «VEF» breakaway — 6-0, which was organized by Steve Zack and Jabril Durem. The guests felt confident and seized the initiative. Throughout the 10-minute period, they gradually reduced the gap, and at some point approached the opponent at a distance of one throw — 60:62.
Already at the start of the final quarter, the hosts managed to make a decisive blow. Horton, Holt, and Zhigulin organized a breakaway — 7: 0, and «Astana» gained a double-digit advantage again — 71:60. «VEF» players tried to organize a comeback through the efforts of Steve Zack, but they did not succeed. The yellow-blue confidently controlled the pace of the match, did not give the opponent free attacks and due to the individual skill of their leaders, they increased the lead even more. The last minutes of the match were controlled by the hosts, which allowed them to interrupt a series of three defeats
The top scorers:
Hero: This season, Stephen Holt often remained in the shadow of Anthony Clemmons. But in this game, the absence of a leader allowed demonstrating all his talents. As a result, he became the best in the match by scored points (22), efficiency (29) and steals (3). 6 rebounds and 3 assists are also in the assets of the American player.
The number: 8 — the number of victories for «Astana» this season. The team won 7 victories during the last championship.
«Astana» head coach Emil Raykovic:
- It was a very important victory for us. In the previous match against UNICS, we lost in the very ending — there wasn’t quite enough. Today we played without our leader Clemmons, so the victory is doubly important, congratulations to everyone.
«VEF» head coach Janis Gailitis:
- Today we started the match very badly. Of course, we analyzed “Astana” style and knew how they play, but we didn’t have enough rigidity and concentration. Today we looked very tired, and the attack lacked ideas and diversity.
The team will play the next match on the road, on February 2, the capital basketball players will meet with the Saratov basketball club «Avtodor» in the regular season of the VTB United League.
Detailed information about the tournament, tournament tables, the schedule and results of the matches are published in the Tournaments section.