By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After losing to Avtodor on the road, Tsmoki recovered in style by giving another blow to a struggling Unics Kazan. The hero of the Belarusian team was Justin Gray who brought his opponents down thanks to a game-winner from beyond the arc with only 4 seconds to go.
Unics is now fifth in the standings with a 10-5 record while Tsmoki jumped back in the race for the playoffs, standing at 4/11. Same as Kalev Tallinn that shocked Astana in Kazakhstan.
Standings leader CSKA Moscow welcomed back Milos Teodosic and his luscious passing by beating Avtodor Saratov yesterday (6/2). The Serbian guard dished out 10 assists in his return to action, but it was mostly Nando De Colo’s brilliance that paced the defending champs.
Meanwhile, Lokomotiv Kuban used its survival instincts to repel Nizhny Novgorod in the final stretch to remain second in the classification, while Zenit St. Petersburg defeated VEF Riga on the road to sit at the third place.
MVP of the Week:
Dru Joyce (Tsmoki Minsk)
Before Justin Gray drained the game-winning bucket vs Unics Kazan, Joyce had been the driving force of his team’s offense in any way you can think of. Points (17), creation (8 assists), rebounding (5 boards) and frustrating Quino Colom (0/6 shots). But perhaps the most impressive aspect of his game is that he committed just one (!) turnover in almost 38 minutes he spend on court while handling floor-general duties successfully.
Best Five of the Week:
Rain Veideman (Kalev Tallinn)
For a second consecutive game, Veideman makes a valiant efforts to exhaust the chances Kalev Tallinn has for the playoffs. After leading his team to victory over Parma, the Estonian guard dropped 24 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 3 assists as Kalev upset Astana on the road.
Dru Joyce (Tsmoki Minsk)
He showed once again that he truly belongs among the hidden “diamonds” of VTB League.
Nando De Colo (CSKA Moscow)
Spilled strong amounts of French sauce, cooked to perfection, in his team’s win over Avtodor Saratov. Ingredients? 24 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal for a team-high 29 in PIR. For CSKA every single one of them to great use in order to fight its opponents’ potent offense with fire.
Nick Minnerath (Avtodor Saratov)
Another day at the office for the VTB leading scorer. 30 points (6/11 two-pointers, 4/5 from beyond the arc), 5 rebounds and 6 fouls as his team beat Tsmoki Minsk. It was imperative for Avtodor Saratov to win this match since they arrived from a defeat by Nizhny Novgorod and league giant CSKA Moscow was next.
Kevin Jones (Lokomotiv Kuban)
The victory of Lokomotiv Kuban against swashbuckling Nizhny Novgorod was hard-earned and wouldn’t have been possible if not for Kevin Jones’ performance: 20 points (on 10/14 shots), 6 rebounds and 3 assists for 24 in PIR. He stayed on the floor for 34 minutes, more than any other of his teammates which says a lot of his beneficial impact.
Coach of the Week: Alar Varaak (Kalev Tallinn)
It’s safe to assume that Tsmoki beating Unics kinda overshadowed the equally stunning, in my opinion at least, upset that Kalev Tallinn delivered vs Astana. The Estonians didn’t only prevail over a superior opponent away from home but did it relatively easily. Actually, they were even up by 18 at some point during the match after a stunning 13 – 26 entrance. Coach Varaak caught the hosts by surprise and, out of the sudden, puts his team in the playoffs battle once again.
The Last Word: A game painted in Gray
After 44 minutes and 50 seconds in the game between Tsmoki Minsk and Unics Kazan, Justin Gray had a poor 3/10 from downtown. Not his best possible shooting night, as you can understand.
After a long and hard fight against a EuroLeague-caliber team and one of the league’s powerhouses, his team was down 84 – 85. There was however one last chance in the final seconds for Tsmoki to capitalize on its huge effort.
Gray took the responsibility to deliver and the rest was history.