Tsmoki Minsk almost defeats the favourite
On eve of match against European basketball leader CSKA Moscow, fans hope for level-headed play from their team
By Dmitry Baranovsky
The army club has been dominating all tournaments for a long time and arrived in Minsk to play in the VTB United League as a favourite. Previous meetings with Belarusian Tsmoki had ended with confident victories for the Moscow team but the Minsk squad has been enjoying a confident start to the season, after a change in line up and new training regime. The ‘dragons’ recently defeated VEF Riga and Lithuania’s Neptūnas, from Klaipeda, although CSKA is of a quite different level.
The Minsk team went on the attack early on, pushing to score, and created the illusion of being worthy rivals. Tsmoki also defended well, placing their opponents in an uneasy position. However, just before the first interval, CSKA caught up, leaving Minsk just four points ahead. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Minsk players were still doing well, keeping fans in suspense. However, CSKA’s greater experience eventually won out, allowing the Ettore Messina team to break the nerve of the Minsk players. If Branko Mirkovic and Pavel Uljanko had hit the target, it would have pushed the game into overtime, but their attempts failed, with the match ending on Sonny Weems’ penalty, to leave the score at 62:66.