VTB United League
Bisons (Finland) defeated Astana (Kazakhstan) at home, 85-76. The league rookies stayed focused for 40 minutes to put in perhaps their best performance of the season. Not surprisingly, Bisons knocked off visiting Astana in the process, securing their 4th win of the season.
Alexandar Trifunovich's men finally had everyone healthy for this game and hoped to tighten their grip on 7th place in the standings. Bisons, meanwhile, looked to pick up another win at home, where they generally play their best.
Astana looked to match Bisons' up-tempo style of play early on. Soon enough, though, the Kazakhs switched gears, looking to Jerry Johnson to feed the big men in the post. But Bisons played solid defense against the Astana frontcourt, while mixing in some full-court pressure. Whenever Astana did get the ball in the paint, Bisons frequently double-teamed and did everything it could to throw its opponent off balance.
Largely shut down around the basket, Astana also struggled to shoot the ball from the perimeter, hitting just one of nine attempts in the first half.
As for Bisons, the Finns executed the game plan to perfection. The home team played an excellent 20 minutes on offense and defense with some fast breaks mixed in to take a 36-32 lead at the break.
The 3rd quarter was mostly even, though Astana gradually started to take control. Most importantly, the visitors managed to slow the pace and limit Bisons on offense, while converting on several fast breaks of their own. With 10 minutes left in the game, Astana had cut the deficit to a point, 53-52.
The game grew even more physical and tense in the 4th quarter. Matti Nuutinen drilled a pair of important 3-pointers for Bisons early in the period, while teammate Roope Ahonen also got one to drop from outside. That helped the home team go up by six points, 67-61.
From that point on, Bisons looked much more relaxed. They started to move the ball efficiently and find open looks under the basket to keep Astana at bay. The visitors did manage to cut the lead to two points briefly, 75-73, with two minutes left, but an 8-0 Bisons run put the game out of reach, capped by 3-pointers from Anthony Hilliard and Nuutinen.
Thanks to a solid 40-minute performance, Bisons picks up its 4th win of the season.
Star of the Game
Matti Nuutinen. Eight players took the court for Bisons in this game and everyone played an important role in the win. Matti led the team with 20 points along with seven rebounds, knocking down three of six 3-pointers. His two 3-pointers early in the 4th quarter made the biggest difference as they helped Bisons create some breathing room and ultimately hold on for the win.
Stat of the Game
33 — number of points scored by Bisons in the final period. The teams started the quarter cautiously, but after knocking down a few 3-pointers, the Finns couldn't be stopped, scoring nearly as many points in the final 10 minutes as they did in the first half.
Bisons: Ian Hummer — 22 points, six rebounds; Matti Nuutinen — 20 points, seven rebounds; Kotti Tuukka — 14 points, five rebounds; Roope Ahonen — eight points; Antto Nikkarinen — six points, 10 assists; Anthony Hilliard — five points, six assists.
Astana: J'Covan Brown — 17 points; Jerry Johnson — 16 points, 10 assists; Rasid Mahalbasic — 12 points, six assists; Nik Caner-Medley — 10 points; Pat Calathes — nine points.