CSKA defeated Zenit in the VTB United League regular season match. The match ended with a score of 104:89. The most productive player was Army defenseman Casper Ware, who scored 28 points. However, this match was remembered not only for the American’s performance.
“Championship” has prepared material based on the results of the week’s match, which has perhaps become the best and most emotional of the current VTB United League season so far.
Thomas Ertel (in white) and Ivan Ukhov
Photo: VTB United League
The teams faced the game as leaders of the championship. With a defeat, CSKA was in first place in the standings, while Zenit was second.
The meeting was their second head-to-head meeting this season. The first match took place in St. Petersburg in October and ended with CSKA winning in the end. One of the main architects of the Army team’s success in that game was American guard Melo Trimble, who came off the bench but scored 16 points and gave nine assists. Zenit was not helped by Frenchman Thomas Ertel’s 27 points and eight assists.
It is clear that the fans expected from this match, above all, a duel of coaches. Emil Rajkovic and Javier Pascual are among the best specialists in the VTB United League. If Raikovich, as a rule, works from the attack, then his counterpart is excellent at building not only an attack, but also a defense.
Of course, it was impossible to ignore the potential battle of the “big guys”. At the same time, the teams’ defense is no less rich in talent.
Hard fight throughout the match.
Episode of the CSKA – Zenit match
Photo: VTB United League
The strong poster of the game was justified on the ground immediately in the first quarter. In fact, it occurred to them that viewers might have seen the best first 12 minutes of this season.
The teams immediately exchanged not only accurate shots, but also the best moments.
In the second half of the first quarter, the military team achieved a 9:2 lead, but Zenit slightly reduced the difference to five points before the end of the 12-minute period.
The second quarter passed at a calmer pace, but the teams did not get carried away. It’s hard to say that CSKA should have played first, just that the Moscow team was a little luckier with their execution. The military team came into the big break with a two-point lead.
The third quarter began under the dictation of CSKA, but after a while the St. Petersburg club recovered and even took the lead for the first time since the start of the first quarter. At the end of 12 minutes, Casper Ware scored five points in a row and gave the Army team +3 entering the fourth quarter.
An ending worthy of an Oscar
Trent Fraser, Zenit player
Photo: VTB United League
The last quarter, like the previous three, was a fierce fight, but with less than four minutes remaining, this game was divided into “before” and “after.”
CSKA was on a fast break and, as he flew towards the basket, he was fouled by Sergei Karasev, but he fell very hard on his back and was unable to get up on his own. He left the place only on a stretcher and later, once the meeting was over, he went to a medical center.
Sergei Karasev is taken away on a stretcher
16.2 seconds before the end of the quarter, CSKA led by three points and had possession, but Army center Amat M’Bye made a terrible mistake, losing control of the ball while trying to put it in, thus ceding possession to Zenit . Later, St. Petersburg team defender Trent Fraser scored a three-pointer to tie the score seven seconds before the end.
The army team took a timeout for the last attack and then they started in the opposite field. However, Melo Trimble was unable to clear the ball in the allotted five seconds and therefore committed a turnover, giving Zenit the right to the last attack. Blue and white defender Timofey Gerasimov took the last shot, but he did so only after the siren sounded. The teams had to find out the winner in overtime.
Unfortunately, the fight didn’t work out in overtime. CSKA crushed Zenit with a score of 20:2 and the total score in extra time was 22:7. The military team earned its second victory this season over the St. Petersburg team, ending a streak of seven consecutive victories.
Rajkovic’s team repeated the record for points in extra time. The last time Astana scored 22 points in overtime was in 2018, by the way, under the direction of Raikovich himself.
CSKA head coach
“As always, the match against Zenit was excellent, with a “hot” atmosphere and a packed room. We controlled the game most of the time, our tactical ideas in defense and attack mostly worked. Except the end, where we made two serious mistakes. The team showed character and composure after such a fall and confidently won in extra time. The most important thing: I want to wish Sergei Karasev health. I hope the injury is not serious and he can return to the court soon.”
Zenit coach Javier Pascual, for his part, stated that the team did not follow his instructions at the start of the match and pointed out that, in addition to Karasev, Kyle Kuric was also injured during the match.
CSKA player Amat M’Bye (in red) and Thomas Ertel
Photo: VTB United League “Championship”
CSKA continues to reap victories and confidently occupies first place in the standings. The army team was perfectly rebuilt after the departure of Alexey Shved and Nikola Milutinov, and this is a great credit to Raikovich. Now, obviously, he finds himself in a more comfortable environment, where there are no clear leaders around whom he needs to build the game. The teams have an excellent handicap to reach the playoffs and can now develop additional ideas and also avoid injuries.
The defeat should not paralyze Zenit, but the team still has injured players and some, despite this, continue to play on the field. There are still many difficult games ahead, including against Lokomotiv and Unics, but Pascual will definitely be able to find something. However, obviously, for Zenit the season is proving much more difficult than anticipated before the start.