The excellent opening quarter performed by the basketball club «Astana» against the Estonian «Kalev» was completely crossed off by the second one, which played a decisive role in the outcome of the whole match.
After ball jump, the guests took possession of the ball, but in the first attack they did not manage to open a score but the second attempt of the Estonians was crowned with success. Astana's response was not long in coming — Michael Thompson, who scored the first three-pointer in the match, brought our team forward. Then «Kalev» took the lead again, but their attack was parried by the newcomer of the capital team Eric Buckner, who gained his first points for «Astana» and in the VTB United League. This was followed by a series of effective attacks — Adonis Tomas, Ojars Silins and Michael Thompson distinguished themselves. After that, the coaching staff of “Kalev” had to take a time-out to slow down the pace of the Kazakh team, and this partially helped. Estonians reduced the gap from seven to three points, but “Astana” did not allow rivals to catch up and the main reason for this was Ojars Silins, who was accurate from behind the arc, and also scored twice from the free-throw line. Until the end of the quarter, Jeremiah Hill, Devin Marble and Askar Maidekin earned their first points in the match, and the difference was around seven points. In the last seconds of the quarter, our players made an unfortunate loss, which the opponents took full advantage of, setting the final score of the first period - 23:18
in favor of the hosts. If in the first period the performance figures of “Astana” were quite decent, then in the second, especially this indicator turned into a failure. It took “Kalev” just over a minute to level the score, after which Emil Rajkovic was forced to take a time-out, but unfortunately he did not give the desired effect and the Estonians continued to go forward. The first points in the second ten minutes for “Astana” were earned by Michael Thompson, who distinguished himself with three-pointer in the fourth minute of the period. However, it did not change the situation on the court. “Kalev” continued to lead, and “Astana” could not score the rivals' ring. Three minutes before the end of the first half, the score difference became double-digit, and then it quickly passed 15 points. Thompson, a little less than two minutes before the end of the second quarter, made the floater, which was the last effective action in the first half of the game, which ended with the score — 28:43.
After a good start, “Astana” in the second quarter was able to score only five points, but at the same time missed 25. During the break, the coaching staff made adjustments in the game, and the 15 point difference was not yet fatal. Jeremiah Hill opened the scoring in the third quarter, but immediately missed three effective attacks of the opponents. Our team did not go well not only in the attack, but in defense as well. Three more effective attacks by “Kalev” proved this. By that time, the backlog of “Astana” had already exceeded twenty points. Until the end of the quarter, points for our team were scored by Michael Thompson, Jeremiah Hill and Devin Marble, but the difference between the teams remained above the twenty-point line. Askar Maidekin, having sent the ball into the basket from a difficult pass, set the final score in the third period — 43:64. More than twenty points gap is quite a lot for the final quarter and it was no longer very easy to recoup in this situation. Moreover, “Kalev” continued to dominate and it was the guests who scored the first points in the last period. Points from Michael Thompson and Devin Marble reduced the gap, and after one effective attack from “Kalev” Maxim Marchuk marked the beginning of a good breakthrough for our team. He was supported by Michael Thompson, he was twice accurate from beyond the arc. After the realized free throw from Jeremiah Hill, four minutes before the end of the match, the difference was reduced to 13 points, and the intrigue in the game significantly intensified. Nevertheless, “Astana” could not consolidate its success, and for the next couple of minutes the initiative was again on the side of the guests, who returned to twenty points' advantage, in fact, were already celebrating the victory. In the last minute and a half, only Michael Thompson scored points, hitting the target four times from the penalty line — 61:77 (23:18
With each defeat, “Astana” loses its chances in the race for the playoffs, lagging more and more behind the top eight. After today's game, our team again went down to the 11th line of the standings, letting «Yenisey» ahead. Now three teams — “Yenisey”, “Astana” and “Kalev” have the same number of victories and defeats. The Krasnoyarsk team bypasses “Astana” according to the results of the matches, and “Kalev” lags behind both teams in the number of tournament points, since they had a technical defeat this season.
«Astana» head coach — Emil Rajkovic:
- «Astana» — Michael Thompson today took a lot on his shoulders and was the clear leader in the team — 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. And Jeremiah Hill has 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a block shot. 10 points and 2 rebounds for Ojars Silins. But Eric Buckner's debut was not as successful - 2 points, although he performed 7 rebounds.
- «Kalev» — Janari Joesaar and Chavon Lewis became the main creators of the victory for their team. Janari earned an impressive double-double — 17 points and 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals. Chavon — 21 points and 6 assists. Markus Keene had 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
- Congratulations to «Kalev» on the victory — they were better today. The opponents dominated the rebounds, which showed their attitude and desire. We weren't in the best shape, we weren't fighting for rebounds. It is very difficult to count on winning with 61 points at home. Therefore, we must think about what to do next.
«Kalev» head coach — Roberts Stelmahers:
- I would like to say thank you to the whole team, I am very pleased with the result. It was a good win after a short break. The difference in the score allowed us to win back the “-7” which we lost at home. Therefore, we are very satisfied with this result.
Next, Emil Rajkovic’s team will have to prepare for the away meeting with «Nizhny Novgorod» in the VTB United League, which will take place next weekend on March 7.
Detailed information about the tournament, tournament tables, schedule and match results are published in the Tournaments