UNICS grabs third straight win
In a battle of former 7DAYS EuroCup champions, UNICS Kazan recorded its third consecutive win in Regular Season Group C by downing Joventut Badalona 86-74 at Basket-Hall Kazan on Wednesday. UNICS improved to 3-1 in the standings while Joventut dropped to 2-2. Errick McCollum led the winners with 32 points, and Alex Tyus and Kostas Kaimakoglou each added 12 for UNICS. Klemen Prepelic led Joventut with 22 points, while Alen Omic added 20 points and 13 rebounds and Neno Dimitrijevic had 10 points. McCollum shined early, getting help from Tyus and Vangelis Mantzaris to give UNICS a 26-21 edge after 10 minutes. Artem Klimenko and an outstanding Kostas Kaimakoglou led a 12-0 run which helped the hosts extend their margin to 49-33 at halftime. McCollum took over after the break - 12 points in 8 minutes - as UNICS extended its lead to 70-51 late in the third quarter and never looked back.
Evgeny Kolesnikov got UNICS going with a six-meter jumper but consecutive tip-ins by Omic soon gave Joventut its first lead, 2-5. Mantzaris hit a three-pointer and Tyus added a fast break layup but Conor Morgan answered from downtown for a 7-8 Joventut lead. McCollum scored in penetration, getting help from Tyus and Mantzaris to restore a 13-10 UNICS edge. Arturs Zagars and Omic stepped up for Joventut and a layup by Prepelic gave the guests a 16-19 edge. A wild-three point-play by McCollum and a triple by Pavel Sergeev helped UNICS regain the lead, 26-21, after 10 minutes. Luke Harangody and Omic each scored down low for a 26-25 score early in the second quarter. A huge dunk by Klimenko sparked a 12-0 run which Kaimakoglou capped with a layup, good for a 38-25 UNICS margin. Prepelic hit an off-balance jumper that Jamar Smith bettered with a triple. Prepelic kept pacing Joventut but he didn't find help. Meanwhile, Tyus dunked and McCollum struck twice from beyond the arc to break the game open, 49-33, at halftime. A three-pointer by Neno Dimitrijevic gave Joventut hope, 51-38, soon after the break. McCollum answered with a coast-to-coast layup and added a triple to keep UNICS out of trouble, 56-39. Prepelic and Omic started to find easy points but Joventut only managed to trade baskets, as no-one could stop McCollum at the other end. He had 5 points in a 7-0 run which Smith capped with a jumper to give UNICS a 70-53 lead after 30 minutes. A driving layup by Mantzaris made it a 20-point game, 74-54, with over 8 minutes left. Xabi Lopez-Arostegui and Omic led a 2-12 run that got Joventut within 76-66, but McCollum and Kaimakoglou stepped up in crunch time off a timeout to make UNICS seal the win.
Errick McCollum made the difference due to an outstanding performance in the opening three quarters. He finished the game with 32 points, hitting 6-of-8 two-point shots, 4-of-8 three-pointers and 8-of-9 free throws. He added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 11 fouls drawn for a PIR of 41 - a new career-high.
UNICS led 26-25 early in the second quarter but Kostas Kaimakoglou did a little bit of everything in a 12-0 run that gave the hosts a double-digit deal for the first game. He had 4 points, 3 assists, a steal and a block in that 12-0. All of a sudden, UNICS led 38-25 and had full control of the game.
UNICS hit more two-point shots with less attempts - the hosts hit 24-of-36 shots inside the arc (66.7%) and Joventut scored 23-of-44 (52.3%). UNICS also had a bigger hustle - 13 steals and 4 blocks against Joventut's 9 steals and one block.
Did you notice?
Nikos Zisis and Luke Harangody of Joventut had last played a EuroCup game at Basket-Hall Kazan in the 2014 EuroCup Finals, wearing UNICS's jersey. Neither of them had returned to Kazan to play a EuroCup game - until now.
Both teams return to 7DAYS EuroCup action next week. Joventut hosts Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana - Prepelic and Omic's former team - on Tuesday, October 29 at 20:45 CET. A day later, on Friday, October 30, UNICS visits Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul at 18:15 CET.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019