Emil Rajkovic leads Avtodor to win in his debut game

Russian Zenit defeated Estonian Kalev at home – 75:60 (20:11, 14:18, 20:15, 21:16).

The best scorers
Zenit: Jordan Mickey (27 + 10 rebounds), Arturas Gudaitis (11 + 7 rebounds), Andrey Zubkov (10).
Kalev: JeQuan Lewis (15 + 7 assists), Kristjan Kitsing (8), Kamari Murphy (8 + 7 rebounds).

Game progress
The nominal favorite of this game was Zenit. But Kalev also attracted attention at the start of the season due to a brilliant performance in the Champions League qualification. Bright offencive game allowed the Estonian club to make it to the tournament group stage.

So  the guests scored first. However, they could not stay in the leader role for a long time. Even the Conner Frankamp injury did not stop the St. Petersburg team. Excellent defense and the Arturas Gudaitis dominance under opponents rim allowed the hosts to seize the leadership. Denis Zakharov and Andrey Zubkov successfully entered to the game from the bench. Their three long-range shots provided Zenit with a comfortable advantage at the end of the first quarter – 20:11.

In the second 10 minutes, the hosts continued to build up the advantage, but at some point the Zenit offence without the main point guards stopped. For almost five minutes, the St. Petersburg team could not score. The Estonians finally woke up. Accurate shots by Ojars Silins, Davion Barry and Kristjan Kitsing reduced Kalev’s gap to just one shot – 26: 29. However, the Russian team still had the last word here. Billy Baron’s lay-up closed the second quarter – 34: 29.

The teams started the third quarter without shooting shots. Neither side could get an advantage. Jordan Mickey gave out a three-pointers streak, JeQuan Lewis perfectly accelerated the guests’ offence. But still, Zenit  experience gradually affected. Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Arturas Gudaitis brought the advantage of St. Petersburg to the mark of  +10 – 54:44.

 

The double-digit score difference eventually lasted in the most of the 4 quarter. The guests tried to comeback to the game, but one desire was not enough. Among the residents of St. Petersburg, the courage Mckey acted as a key option. The American forward gave out another series of several accurate shots at the end of the quarter, which summed up this game– 75:60.

Hero
Jordan Mickey became the most valuable player of this game. The forward made 10 of 14 shots from the game, made 10 rebounds and updated the records of this season for points (27 points) and efficiency (34).

Numbers
60– defense was a key factor in Zenit win.

Comments
Xavier Pascual, Zenit Head Coach:
— First of all, we are happy to play at the Sibur Arena. Unfortunately, we started the game with an injury, and it’s the point guard again: Conner Frankamp was injured two minutes after the start of the game. After that, we began to play more seriously. If we had problems in the first 20 minutes of the game, we were nervous, then in the second half we played more calmly, controlled the ball and rebounds in defense. We won the first game of the season and we need to congratulate the players. As for Conner, it is necessary to conduct an additional examination now, but the injury does not look as serious as it was with Napier.

Roberts Stelmahers, Kalev Head Coach:
– I congratulate Zenit on the win. It was the first game in the VTB United League new season, and for my players it was the first game in this tournament. It was noticeable from the very beginning of the game, then everything seemed to go fine, but Zenit showed its class. Today we were not able to batlle for a win. Zenit is a good team, against which it is not always possible to use what we have planned. We had problems under the rim, today was a good day for Mickey, he doesn’t always shoot like that. This is our first game, we have a new team, we must unite and play even better.

 

What’s next
Zenit:  home game against Astana on October 4
Kalev: home game versus Avtodor on October 4

Text by VTB League