The away game of the basketball club «Astana» with the king of the mountain of the VTB United League standings — Kazan UNICS became a serious test for our guys. The game turned out to be very ineffective, and our team was very much let down by the long distance field goal percentage.
UNICS won the jumping ball and in the very first attack the hosts opened the score. Our team didn't have to wait long — Jaylen Barford earned the first points in the match. The home team were much more successful at the start of the game. Two minutes after the start of the game, the Kazan team won five points. Anthony Hickey implemented three attacks towards the middle of the quarter, and Skylar Spencer also scored with points. But UNICS did not pose at that time, but actively used their strengths and, as a result, won 9 points after five minutes, after which the Kazan team reached a double-digit advantage a minute later. Mark Tikhonenko scored the first long-range shot for our team and Barford scored twice from the free-throw line until the end of the first quarter, but UNICS won the first ten minutes by a double-digit margin — 26:15. Tikhonenko at the start of the second quarter was immediately accurate from beyond the arc. In the first five minutes of the period, both teams were not very productive, except for Mark Tikhonenko, Hickey and Campbell earned two points during these five minutes, and the hosts were able to score only five points. The difference in the score was 9 points, and Antonio Campbell further reduced it to six with his three-pointer. After two points from Spencer, the backlog of “Astana” was reduced to four points. In the last minutes of the first half of the match, UNICS scored five more points, and Barford and Campbell also updated their scores for the Kazakh team. “Astana” won the second quarter, mainly due to the game in defense, allowing the rivals to score only 10 points, but nevertheless lost after twenty minutes of the game with a score of 36:31.
A poor first quarter and a good second one, only five points behind, in general, promised a continuation of the struggle in the second half. But, unfortunately, UNICS was able to outplay our team at the start of the third period. In more than three minutes, Barford scored two points for our team and Spencer was accurate from the free throw line. As for the rivals, during this time their advantage has broken through the line of ten points. Jaylen Barford hit the basket twice until the middle of the third period, and Maxim Marchuk, being alone under the rivals' basket, hammered the ball from above and reduced the gap to six points. However, the Kazan team regained their double-digit advantage very quickly. Antonio Campbell was the last to score this quarter by converting an end-one. Before the final ten minutes “Astana” was losing with the score 51:43. Such a difference could well be won back in ten minutes, but for this it was necessary to increase the hit rate from beyond the arc, which was simply disastrous in the first three quarters. In the first minutes of the final period, the teams exchanged a couple of effective attacks, in which Barford and Hickey scored more points, and thus the difference of eight points remained. The three-pointer rate for the Kazakh team did not improve at all, and the players continued to miss from behind the arc, plus problems with shots from an average distance and a significant amount of losses were on top of this. UNICS at this time was extremely active and won 20 points five minutes before the end, and there were no special questions about the winner in this game. Jaylen Barford scored two free throws, Anthony Hickey scored after drive, and Rustam Murzagaliev finally scored a three-pointer. The situation on the court was getting worse, and the difference was reduced to thirteen points, but only two minutes remained to play. Time was playing on the opponents' side, and they also earned points in the offense. UNICS secured a victory in advance — Campbell earned two more points, and Murzagaliev finished the match with an exact three-ponter, but this did not affect the result of the game. 71:59 — UNICS wins.
- “Astana” — Antonio Campbell became the most effective in our squad, who recorded a double-double — 12 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Jaylen Barford earned 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists. Anthony Hickey has 12 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists.
- “UNICS” — Two players at once in the team of our rivals scored 23 points. Mario Hezonja — 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 1 block shot; Jarrell Brantley — 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block shot.
Astana's players will now wear the VTB United League club uniform only three weeks later on December 5, when Estonian «Kalev» will arrive in Nur-Sultan, and before that our guys as part of the National Team will play the first two qualifying matches for the World Cup.
Detailed information about the tournament, tournament tables, schedule and match results are published in the Tournaments