The presidential basketball club «Astana» opened the second round of the VTB United League regular championship with a confident home victory over the Polish team «Stelmet Zielona Gora».
In Poland, our team snatched a victory from rivals, and in a home game, the capital basketball players again were favorites. Another key factor was the fact that the leader of the Poles, Drew Gordon, was injured in the previous game with UNICS and has not yet recovered and did not take part in the match in Nur-Sultan. Of course, we wish Drew a fast recovery, but his absence was a plus for our team. American player George King made his debut in the Polish team. “Astana” also had a debut in this game, a forward Geoffrey Crockett first came to the court in the club colors. Well, at the start, Emil Rajkovic put the same roster as in the last game with “Parma”: Dushan Ristic, Alexander Zhigulin, James Florence, Malcolm Hill, and Vadim Shcherbak.
In the first minute of the match, the teams exchanged futile attacks, and the first to score was Alexander Zhigulin, who was twice accurate in his free throws. The game in the first quarter was equal. Our team brought the advantage to five points in the first minutes, but they failed to gain leadership in the game. The leader has changed more than once during the first quarter. Another interesting fact is that in the first seven minutes of the match only two players from the Kazakh team scored points — 9 points were in the account of Alexander Zhigulin and 7 on Malcolm Hill's. The last-minute of the first quarter was successful for our guys, they scored 5 points, which allowed them to complete the quarter in their favor — 25:22. In the second quarter, from the first minutes, the capital squad looked more confident than its rivals, which all started with the first points of Jeffrey Crocket for “Astana”. For some time, the Poles resisted and did not allow our team to increase the advantage, but already in the middle of the quarter, the hosts pulled away with a double-digit advantage. The timeouts of «Zielona Gora» did not slow down the confident pace of the capita team, which had already won 16 points two minutes before the big break. Nevertheless, the first half ended with a difference of +11 in favor of “Astana” — 48:37.
In the second half, the players of Emil Rajkovic continued to play confidently, and again overcame the advantage margin of 15 points. But the next three minutes were unsuccessful for the players of “Astana” when the throws of the hosts were bounced back from our rivals' basket. Meanwhile, “Zielona Gora” on the contrary, held a more or less successful game segment, reducing its backlog to 10 points. The yellow-turquoise ones after the equator of the third quarter gain started to score points, and only a minute later they were again in the lead by 15 points. However, our rivals are famous for their persistence and never quit struggling. By the end of the third quarter, the teams were separated only 10 points. Thus, the third quarter was left to our rivals, who, however, were leading just by 1 point. Ten points is a good advantage, but very fragile and recoups pretty quickly. But our guys were not going to give opponents a chance and very quickly the Kazakhstan team's advantage again reached 15 points. The Poles resisted as best they could, but “Astana” was impregnable and giving a victory today was not in their plans. Five minutes before the end of the match, the confidence of our players resulted in +20 on the scoreboard. These numbers were very comfortable and our players relaxed a bit, giving our opponents the opportunity to reduce the gap. A critical situation did not happen, and «Astana» confidently led in the end, so Emil Rajkovic allowed the bench players to finish this match. “Astana” in the end confidently brought the match to victory, which, by the way, became the largest for the Kazakhstan team this season — 92:80 (25:22, 23:15
, 24:25, 20:18
). No less interesting fact about our team — in this match they did not miss a single free throw, gaining 24 points in 24 attempts.
Head coach of “Astana” — Emil Rajkovic:
- “Astana” — today there was teamwork on the court and all the players contributed to today's victory, but Malcolm Hill became the best in our squad, who scored 25 points and made 4 rebounds. Dushan Ristic today did not give his best game, but in any case, he became the best in rebounds — 15, while gaining 9 points and 3 assists. The match went well for Stefan Holt — 14 points, 5 rebounds. Alexander Zhigulin, perhaps, became the best at the start of the match and set an excellent pace for the whole team — 12 points, 3 rebounds.
- «Zielona Gora» - Our team and in this game could not stop Ivica Radic, who was the leader in his team today — 29 points, 14 rebounds, and Ludwig Hackanson had 15 points and 5 rebounds.
- We really needed this victory as «Zielona Gora» is our direct competitor for getting into the playoffs. We won both matches this season with this team, and we now have an advantage in our mutual games. I would like to congratulate all the players, they played to their best ability. Now we will prepare for the game with «Tsmoki-Minsk.
Head coach of «Stelmet Zielona Gora» — Jean Tabak:
- It was a difficult trip for us. From the very beginning, we physically could not cope. Firstly, this is due to minor injuries and injuries that our players had, and secondly, we need to prepare better mentally. Congratulations to «Astana» with a victory, it is fully deserved.
for “Astana” this is a very successful victory because it allowed our team to return to the playoff zone and move up from the ninth line, immediately to the fifth. But do not forget that today there will be several more matches that can change the position in the standings, especially for «Zenit» — «UNICS» match, after which «Astana» will lose one line if St. Petersburg team wins. “Stelmet Zielona Gora” after today's defeat left the playoff zone ending up in 9th place.
Next match: in 2 days
, on January 28
and 29, “Astana” will host the Aktau “Caspian” at home, where they will play a two-match series, and in the VTB United League, our team will now play on February 2
in Minsk against local “dragons” — “Tsmoki” Minsk».
Detailed information on tournaments, tournament tables, the schedule and results of matches are published in the Tournaments section.