By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The “Moscow derby” between CSKA and Khimki was naturally the talk of the town this weekend in VTB United League but not the only reason why this last set of games is one to be remembered.
While the defending champs displayed a show of offensive strength to down Khimki, Nizhny Novgorod and Parma (115 – 94) gave a scoring spectacle reminiscent of an… All-Star Game by combining for… a total of 209 points! Perhaps a preview of what we should expect on the 11th of February in Sochi, where the first VTB League first All Star gathering ever is about to take place.
In total contrast, Lokomotiv Kuban put an exceptional defensive punch in action to beat Zenit St. Petersburg on the road and elevate at the third place of the standings. Only CSKA is above them as well as Unics, that struggled a bit vs Avtodor Saratov but ultimately managed to take the win.
MVP of the Week: Milos Teodosic (CSKA Moscow)
Very tough choice between him and Aaron Jackson since they both shined the brightest for their team against Khimki Moscow. We go with Milos since apart from his 16 points (on a sweet 6/7 from the field) and his 9 assists, he finished the game with a stunning 23 +/-. Meaning that with him on the floor, CSKA was simply incredibly dominant on every level and its opponents had virtually no chance of even disturbing their hosts’ game.
Best Five of the Week:
- Ivan Strebkov (Nizhny Novgorod): A pure offensive showdown between his team and Parma gave him a perfect chance to unfold his skills: A double-double consisted of 20 points (shooting with 5/7 two-pointers, 3/5 from beyond the arc) and 12 assists, plus 5 rebounds and 3 steals as two juicy cherries on the pie. All these set him a new PIR career-high in VTB League with a total number of 33. Nice!
- Milos Teodosic (CSKA Moscow): One more beautiful game by the Serbian maestro.
- Keith Langford (Unics Kazan): Another day in the office for the American super-scorer of Unics Kazan. In a tricky road game against a recently quite improved Avtodor Saratov, he dropped 20 points almost casually leading his team to victory that keeps Unics tied with CSKA at the first place of the standings with a 9-1 record. Avtodor players tried to make his life difficult but only managed to foul him five times.
- Andrey Zubkov (Lokomotiv Kuban): Lokomotiv Kuban grabbed quite the victory on the road against Zenit St. Petersburg and Zubkov’s efforts on both ends were highly commendable. Apart from dropping 13 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, he provided the lot on defense, helping his team weaken one of the most dangerous offensive team’s in VTB League.
- Suleiman Braimoh (Enisey): A basketball equivalent of “Suleiman the Magnificent”? It’s not an exaggeration to call him like that, considering the imposing manner in which he treats his opponents on the floor. In one more win for Enisey, this time over Kalev Tallinn, the Nigeria born big guy was a force to be reckoned with: 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and… 7 fouls won that send him on the line for 12/12 free throws.
Coach of the Week: Sasa Obradovic (Lokomotiv Kuban)
In this column, we had already discussed how he has beneficially transformed Lokomotiv Kuban since his arrival, so let’s focus on his team’s latest accomplishment. Because that’s a fitting way to describe the defensive masterwork Loko put against Zenit. St. Petersburg.
Before the match vs Lokomotiv, Zenit averaged 85.9 points per game in VTB League but the team from Krasnodar managed to completely decrease their production rates, forcing them to score only 62 points. At home.
Apart from Obradovic‘s plan that rendered the opposing weapons completely harmless, his players played with lots of passion and put some high dozes of energy on the court. And this also has to do with the amount of motivation that is transmitted from the bench.
The Last Word: A volcano called “Nizhny Novgorod”
Nizhny Novgorod came into the game against Parma with a pretty much underachieving… one victory in the league so far. And this time its players… erupted, spouting lava that was translated into 115 points (!), a new personal best for the club in history of the franchise, plus a VTB League season high. A rather pretty way to finish 2016.
No wonder that coach Arturs Stalbergs was in a mood for jests after such a performance. “We played like Golden State, although they get 48 minutes to score 115 points and we only get 40. I’m joking, of course,” he said.