The biggest stories from the past seven days in the VTB United League.
Shortly after the All Star Game three games involving leaders of the championship took place. The second week after the All-Star game brought two more matches with the representatives of the «Big Five». CSKA Moscow after the defeat from Zenit secured its position in the battle with Locomotiv, and this week it has established itself on the top thanks to its success in the game with UNICS. Muscovites (16-2) stubbornly fight to the first place in the regular season, and Kazan (11-7) with high probability will remain on the fifth place — without home-court advantage in the first round.
«Khimki» (14-3) took an important step in order to avoid the most unpleasant meeting with the finalist of the last season, already at the beginning of the playoffs, sacrificing the advantage of the home court for that. Victory in Krasnodar allowed them to scale to the third place, moving Loco (13-4) to the fourth.
Alexey Shved has been unstoppable since the All-Star Game. 29 points and eight rebounds, including two clutch 3-pointers in the final minutes in Krasnodar: Shved is keeping the League’s highlight crew busy.
Khimki general director Pavel Astakhov made a modest prediction concerning his star guard:
“That game was enough to give one a heart attack. I’m really happy we managed to win. Shved did everything possible to help his team to gain the victory. That’s why he’s Alexey Shved: He knows how to step up in moments like this. He has averagly 30 points for the last three games. It’s clear who’s the best player in February.”
Basketball fans love big dunks, wild layups, buzzer-beaters and mad crossovers. But some sophisticated fans enjoy a perfectly executed pass even more than that. Milos Teodosic, one of Europe’s finest, most exquisite playmakers, stunned the Moscow fans on Sunday with two jaw-dropping assists in the 1st quarter.
When Astana head coach Ilias Papatheodorou asserted that his team controlled the game from start to finish, he might have exaggerated quite a bit. Kazakhstan did lead much of the contest, but Saratov caught up in the 4th quarter, taking a one-point lead with seven seconds remaining. In that moment, the Yellow-Blues control of the game was a bit tenuous, if not to say the least.
But after Ian Miller’s unrealized shot, Leonidas Kaselakis was there to rebound and score the game-winning basket with 0.4 seconds remaining. Astana picks up a crucial win in the race for the postseason, while Avtodor enters a dangerous field with time running out on the regular season.
Lokomotiv-Kuban forward Ryan Broekhoff ended the 1st quarter against Khimki with a buzzer.
What’s even more astonishing is that Broekhoff has already shot a buzzer earlier this season in the Eurocup. Don’t be surprised if he starts shooting from the locker room. The Aussie might even hit one from Down Under one day.
“I was aiming at the basket, because I knew there were only a few seconds left in the quarter. It’s one of those times you get a feeling, shoot the ball and pray that it goes straight into the basket.”
The suumed up age of the League’s two youngest coaches–Janis Gailitis (31) of VEF and Arturs Stalbergs (32) of Nizhny Novgorod is only 63 years. During the first meeting, the Latvian’s youth won the day. On Thursday, however, experience had the upper hand with Nizhny securing a win.
17 – number of assists made by Stefan Markovic, Zenit point guard, in the game against Enisey. The creative Serb player sets a new season record for assists, achieving the 4th top result in League history.
Not surprisingly, Zenit won the game.
Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Sasa Obradovic:
– This was a great game to watch. Both teams gave it their all. You could feel the game’s significance in every player’s movement. Congratulations to both teams on the quality of demonstrated basketball!
Alexey Shved (Khimki) -
After the game in Krasnodar, Shved could make it like Vince Carter during the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, when he stared to the camera after a glorious dunk and lifted his arms, as if to say: “It’s over. Noone can surpass me.”
Milos Teodosic (CSKA) -
Teodosic doesn’t just compete with players around the League for Star of the Week status; he’s got to beat out teammate Nando De Colo, who’s been playing at an MVP level himself., Teodosic finished with 19 points and 10 assists, including three clutch 3-pointers in a game against UNICS.
Stefan Markovic (Zenit)-
After the game against Enisey, Markovic proved he can be MVP despite shooting only two points. He hardly looked at the basket against the Siberians, preferring to consentrate his teammates. In the end, he got 17 assists, setting a new season record.