UNICS Kazan preserved their unbeaten FIBA Europe League record in Ukraine, but they were made to work very hard for their victory by hosts Azovmash Mariupol.
Azovmash are of course no slouches, as their 2nd place position in Group A can attest to, and they gave Kazan their closest contest so far in this year’s competition.
It was only in the 4th quarter that Kazan really found their game and were able to assert control. Azovmash set the tone from the beginning and led 6:1 by the third minute. Kazan stayed within striking distance and a free throw from Estonian star Martin Müürsepp tied the scores at 17 after 10 minutes.
Azovmash were comfortably able to retain the pace throughout the next 2 quarters, although the scores were close. At the end of the third, they led 51:49 and were within sight of becoming the first team to defeat Kazan this season.
But for the Ukrainians it was not to be. Kazan managed to produce their trademark aggressiveness, enough to outscore the hosts 19:25 in the 4th quarter and take the game.
Lamarr Greer had a key contest for the Russians, scoring 19 points, dishing 5 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. Lithuanian star Saulius Stombergas contributed 16 points and 9 rebounds, although he hit just 1/9 three-pointers, and Chris Antsey had 11 points and 17 rebounds.
Azovmash displayed a more balanced attack, with Tephen Hamilton top scoring with 14 points, and 3 other players netting double figures.
Andrey Podkovyrov, Head Coach, Azovmash:
“The game was really difficult but exciting. I am satisfied with the game because we didn’t make pity mistakes. Not everything went the way it had to go though, as the guest team did not let us play our game”.
Leonid Yaylo, Azovmash:
“The result of the first game against Unics could not show a lot. Though, tonight’s game revealed that we can fight against such strong opponents like Unics if everyone of us keeps his full concentration on the court for entire forty minutes”.
Stanislav Eremine, Head Coach, Unics:
“We were expecting that the match would’ve been more difficult because Azovmash became stronger during the season. Our general aim was to prevent their fast breaks. I’m glad there were some players in our team who succeeded both in defence and the free throws. We just have been a little luckier”.
Chris Anstey, Unics:
“Tonight’s game was the most difficult one we had in FIBA EuropeLeague so far. The victory was really important for us to feel how to play as a team when a game is very close”.