On Monday, Estonian basketball club BC Kalev/Cramo hosted VTB United League standings leader Zenit Saint Petersburg. Kalev, who played with a short bench, had to admit 51:87 defeat, their eighth loss of the season.
While Kalev's and Zenit's first match-up of the season saw Kalev give the EuroLeague team a good fight, Monday's game was decided rather quickly. The Russian team grabbed a 22:8 lead in the first quarter and went into half with a 17-point lead, extending that to a whopping 32 by the final quarter.
Due to complications from the coronavirus, Kalev was missing main contributors Chavaughn Lewis, Devin Thomas, Janari Jõesaar and Janis Kaufmanis. Kregor Hermet, who had been out for a few games, only saw the court for four minutes.
Martin Dorbek was the high-point man for Kalev with 13 points, noone else reached double figures. Maurice Kemp added six points and 11 rebounds. Marcus Keene also returned to the court from isolation, but was only able to add six points on ten field goal attempts. Zenit's top scorer was Austin Hollins with 14 points, Will Thomas added a double-double with 11 points and ten boards.
Kalev head coach Indrek Reinbok told ERR post-match: "To manage [Zenit], you have to equal their aggressiveness and then some. We fell behind from the start today."
"We were battling two things at once - one of the best defenses in the EuroLeague, but also a disease. The players are certainly exceeding themselves currently. We first must beat the virus and then we can go back to our normal game," the coach noted.
Zenit will continue the season as the season standings leader with 11 wins and one loss, followed by CSKA Moscow with 10 wins and two losses. Kalev/Cramo holds the second to last 12th position with one win and eight losses.
Reinbok added: "We are certainly in a position where a lot of work needs to be done. I think the prettier side of the season still awaits us."
Kalev has dealt with two separate COVID-19 incidents this season, leading to many of their games being rescheduled, but the games they have been able to play have been without many of the team's main contributors.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste