Kalev came short in away game against Avtodor – 100:90 (26:23, 29:30, 25:21, 20:16).
Avtodor: Isaiah Hicks (28 + 16 rebounds + 5 blocks), Orlando Johnson (17), Markel Starks (13 + 9 assists), Mouhammadou Jaiteh (12 + 12 rebounds), Nikita Mikhailovskii (11 + 6 rebounds).
Kalev: Kyle Vinales (19 + 9 rebounds), Kristjan Kitsing (19), Jonathan Holton (13), Aigars Skele (12 + 10 assists + 5 rebounds), Sander Raieste (11).
The guests started fast, but Saratov woke up soon. Avtodor took control of the game thanks to Isaiah Hicks and Markel Starks (15 points together). However, Saratov didn’t manage to run far as Kalev led by Kristjan Kitsing (8 in quarter) were catching up.
After the first period, Avtodor led by only 3 (26:23), but they reached the double digit margin in the beginning of the second (33:32). Kalev rookie Jonathan Holton (12 points in quarter) started the comeback. The Estonians used their centers, made a couple of threes. At some point, the guests even took the lead, but Avtodor won the first half with Orlando Johnson’s shot from beyond the arc – 55:53.
Avtodor tried to increase the lead in the third period: they paced up, turned on run and gun mode and got the double digits again (73:60). The Estonians answered with another comeback. Baskets by Raieste, Vinales and Cooke in the last two quarters made it 81:82.
This game was meant to end with a clutch. The teams slowed down in scoring so every basket made a huge difference. Avtodor won the cold blood challenge. Three pointer by Mikhailovskii, two blocks by Hicks, fast break by Starks, and perfect free throws by Johnosn got the first victory for Avtodor – 100:90.
Isaiah Hicks missed three games over injury. But he came back to become a hero of Saratov. Ex-Knicks player started earning points from the very beginning. As a result, Hicks is the best in points (28), rebounds (16) and efficiency (39). Plus, he beat his own record of the season in blocks (5).
100. For the first time this season Avtodor scores 100. And this got them the W. In last four games Saratov scored an average of only 81.8.
Kalev head coach Roberts Stelmahers:
We played a good game. I’m upset with the result, but we faced a strong team with skilled players. Too bad we allowed 17 offensive rebounds, it’s hard to win with a stat like that. We missed some shots, but we fought to the end. I’m satisfied with my team.
Avtodor head coach Evgeny Pashutin:
Congrats to everyone, the first win of the season! We prepared thoroughly. We won because the guys were united and focused, everyone worked 100% in the defense. That’s the dedication we want to see every game. Of course, we’ve had errors to work on. I want to thank the fans as their support helped a lot, especially in the clutch when Kalev got close. Now we’ll try to maintain this attitude in the next games.
Source: VTB homepage (https://www.vtb-league.com/en/news/avtodor-s-first-win-as-isaiah-hicks-back/)