Kalev beat Zenit on the road – 76:75 (20:22, 23:19, 14:21, 19:13).
Zenit: Austin Hollins (18), Andrey Zubkov (12), Gustavo Ayon (11 + 9 rebounds + 5 assists)
Kalev: Kyle VInales (29), Janari Joesaar (14 + 6 rebounds), Kristjan Kitsing (9).
Zenit lost two in a row and matched Kalev’s record of 6-8 prior to this game. The Baltics were ranked 6th (higher than Zenit according to tie-break regulations). Saint Petersburg set the tempo of the first half and scored 58% field goals. In the middle of the second period the hosts were close to a crucial lead (33:26, 35:28, 37:30). Kalev were surviving this games thanks to incredible performance of Kyle Vinales who received the All-Star Game wild card this week. The American made 8 of 10 field goals and scored 18 points. Getting closer to the halftime, Tallinn took the game by the throat as Janari Joesaar sank a number of shots. Kalev had taken the lead by the halftime break – 43:41.
The third quarter was equal and Zenit ended it with Vladislav Trushkin and Anton Pushkov’s three-pointers – 62:57. Vinales and Kristjan Kitsing made a 9:0 run in the beginning of the final quarter (66:62). Austin Hollins’ three-pointers woke Zenit up to get to the clutch.
Kalev started the last minute of the regulation with a comfortable lead (76:69) as Joesaar dropped three and Vinales made his free throws. Zenit got a chance to rescue the game. The Estonians kept on firing long-range shots, but this time it was no good. After Hollin’s shot and Zubkov’s and one, the Russians got to 1-poin distance – 75:76, 22 seconds to the buzzer. In the key moment the teams exchanged failed possessions: Vinales missed his shot, and Zenit didn’t manage to make one in the last possession.
After 3 consecutive losses Zenit dropped to 9th place while Kalev climbed to Top 8.
Kyle Vinales. Within 31.5 minutes, Vinales made 57% field goals and renewed his scoring record in VTB League – 29 points. He was Kalev’s no.1 option in the offense.
Zenit head coach Joan Plaza:
“No one likes to lose, obviously. As I said many times, when you lose by 1 point it means that both teams deserved to win and both teams deserved to lose. It’s just that some day you win a game like this, some day you lose. Tonight we lost. We shouldn’t use injuries as an excuse. Even without injuries, this game would be extremely difficult with our intense schedule. We’ll keep on working.”
Kalev head coach Roberts Stelmahers:
“We’re really pleased to beat a Euroleague team. We knew they would lack some players, but still it’s a strong club. Furthermore, we beat them in the first round and knew they would be studying us carefully. Congrats to my team!”
Kalev: February 10 at Enisey