‘Mentally Tough’ Spartak Beat CSKA



10. Anton Ponkrashov (Spartak)
Russia international Anton Ponkrashov was on great night against CSKA, scoring 20 points and playing good defence on Ramunas Siskauskas

Spartak Saint-Petersburg edged CSKA Moscow in their Russian PBL clash on Saturday night.

Trailing by a point entering the final quarter, Zvi Sherf's team won 81-77 with Russia international Anton Ponkrashov pouring in 20 points.

The win will be another boost of confidence for a Spartak side that has already won the Russian Cup and will be in the EuroChallenge Final Four.

"I am very happy and proud of today's victory," Sherf said.

"Maybe in the technical sense, we didn't have the best game, but in terms of the mentality, we showed that we can cope with pressure.

"It was like a play-off atmosphere."

Spartak won despite having to go without star guard Patrick Beverley for most of the fourth quarter because of foul trouble.

Sherf says the players have to keep working hard.

"We need to improve our game in all aspects," the Israeli coach said.

"The next game in Khimki, in my opinion, will be a test before the EuroChallenge Final Four."

As for Ponkrashov, Sherf said: "Normally, I don't talk about specific players but we should recognize that today, Ponkrashov was good on both offense and defense.

"He played great against (CSKA Moscow forward Ramunas) Siskauskas.

"Everyone - the players, fans, management - can be proud of what the team did today.

"Today, we have passed a serious test."

Spartak's win has left them third in the PBL.

Second-place Lokomotiv Kuban, who are also in the EuroChallenge Final Four, and fourth-place CSKA all have 13-7 records.

UNICS Kazan lead the PBL with a 14-5 record and Khimki are fifth at 12-8.


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