The home match of «Astana» Presidential Basketball Club against the Estonian «Kalev» in the VTB United League was not without a pulse-pounding ending, the winners though at the end of the day were the guests.
“Kalev” had arrived in Nur-Sultan with all the guns blazing. Almost all the leaders of the Estonians were announced for this match, and plus the Kalev rookie, American guard Tekele Cotton, made his debut in this game. The only leader who did not arrive in the capital is the Latvian guard Aigars Skele. For both teams, this match is very important, and the competition was expected to be very intense. James Florence, Dusan Christian, Alexander Zhigulin, Maxim Marchuk and Malcolm Hill started this match in the starting five.
Dusan Ristic won the toss and in the first attack, he himself opened the score in the match. In general, the start of our team guys turned out to be quite good, they realized 4 out of 5 attacks — Alexander Zhigulin and Malcolm Hill realized three-pointers, and Dushan Ristic was distinguished by a spectacular dunk. The margin of “Astana” was 5 points, but then for our team came a goalless pause, which lasted almost five minutes. During this time, our guests were able not only to recoup but also to pull away by 5 points. Malcolm Hill brought his team two points realizing free throws, but the Estonians were able to increase the lead to seven points. At the end of the period, Stephen Holt alone reduced the gap to two points, and Jeffrey Crockett compared the score with a powerful dunk. Nevertheless, the first period finished in favor of our guests, though with a minimum advantage of one point. Holt at the start of the second period brought “Astana” forward, but this only provoked «Kalev» and aggravated the struggle on the court, which was already quite hot. Both teams were exchanging the role of leader, and the difference between the teams did not exceed 2-3 points. In such a fight, the whole second quarter had passed, which did not reveal a clear favorite in the game. Despite the fact that the period remained with the Kazakhstan team, our team did not have a comfortable advantage on the scoreboard after the first half of the match — 39:37.
In the third quarter, the tough fight continued. Neither team managed to properly cling to the advantage. Teams fought for every point, and the lead role had been turning over from one team to another. As a result, to the equator of the third quarter, the score was still equal, and this trend continued to persist halfway until its end. At the end of the game, “Astana” missed a couple of attacks of the opponent, leaving them irresponsible. As a result, “Kalev” was in the lead by 4 points before the final ten-minute period. Perhaps the game was not so productive — none of the teams crossed the threshold of 60 points following the results of three periods, but the match went in a very dynamic and tough fight, and in the fourth quarter the competition still did not lose its intensity. After two and a half minutes of the fourth period, Stephen Holt once again equalized the score, but the players of Emil Rajkovic could not come forward, and they continued to play the role of catching up. Five minutes before the final buzzer, «Kalev» was in the lead by 4 points, after which the Estonians developed their success and in a couple of minutes they won 8 points. Naturally, this did not suit our coaching staff, who immediately resulted in a tactical pause, which brought positive results for our team. An excellent defensive game and the competent actions of Malcolm Hill in the attack, as well as the accurate three-pointer from James Florence, reduced the backlog of our team to a minimum.
The last game minute was stretched and a lot of interesting events took place along its leisurely course. It all started with another three-pointer performed by James Florence, who could bring our team forward, but missed the goal. The guests did not do particularly well either from behind the arc, but unlike our team, they were able to rebound and earned the right to two free throws, which they successfully implemented. The gap of “Kalev” again reached had three points, and before the end of the match was a little over 16 seconds. Of course, Emil Rajkovic took a timeout in order to organize the attack correctly, but at the same time players of Roberts Stelmacher, the Kalev head coach received the necessary instructions as well. Estonians competently controlled the situation and committed a foul in the game on James Florence, which gave a chance for two free throws with a deficit of three points 13 seconds before the end. James realized both free throws and the gap was again reduced to a minimum. After that, our team, of course, began to actively press to steal the ball. The pressure turned out to be so active that Dusan Ristic got a technical foul while trying to prevent the opponent's player from advance the ball from out of bounds. Naturally, our rivals took full advantage of the opportunity that appeared, and their margin increased to 4 points. After that, the “Astana” coaching staff requested another timeout, however, all three pauses in the second half of the match have already been used, for which the team received another technical foul. The Estonian “Kalev” correctly took advantage at the end of the match and pulled out a victory with a score of — 78:83 (21:22, 18:15, 16:22, 23:24).
- “Astana” — Dushan Ristic again scored a double-double 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Stephen Holt became the most productive in our team — 19 points and 3 rebounds. 17 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds were recorded by Malcolm Hill, and Geoffrey Crockett, in addition to a spectacular dunk, brought the team 11 points and had 8 rebounds.
- “Kalev” — our team could not stop the rival leaders today: Kyle Vinales scored 26 points, and in addition to 9 assists and 5 rebounds, Yanari Joesaar scored a double-double — 23 points, 11 rebounds.
this unfortunate defeat pushed “Astana” out of the playoff zone, and our team led the top three teams in terms of additional indicators, which included 7 victories and 11 defeats, taking 9th place. “Kalev” on the contrary, while he joined the top eight teams, taking the eighth line.
exactly in a week — on March 15, the capital team will meet on their court with the next rival in the VTB United League, this time the Saratov «Avtodor» will arrive in Nur Sultan. The match will take place in the arena of the sports complex «Zhekpe-zhek.» Tickets are on sale at Ticketon.kz
Detailed information about the tournament, standings, the schedule and match results are published in the Tournaments