Unics Kazan enters the play-offs as the number one contender to win the FIBA Europe League. During the Qualifying Round, their only slip-up came in the final game, an 85:80 defeat against Bosnian side CBC Siroki. Despite the setback, Kazan had already long secured the top spot in Group A and finished with a near perfect 11:1 record.
Unics are also flying high in the Russian Superleague and currently top the standings in front of rivals CSKA Moscow.
|Gurovic leads Vojvodina in scoring|
Vojvodina on the other hand have been rejuvinated this season by the addition of Serb and Montenegrin national team forward Milan Gurovic. He has led the team in scoring at 19.1ppg. Vojvodina have also proved to be one of the top teams in the YUBA League and currently lie in 3rd place with a 13:3 record.
Unics will very much want to avoid a repeat of last year’s performance in the FIBA Europe Champions Cup. They dominated in the Pan-European round with a 6:0 record, only to suffer defeat in the play-offs at the hands of Latvian side BC Ventspils. In 2001 the side reached the semi-finals of the Saporta Cup, to lose to eventual champions and fellow FEL side, TIM Maroussi. Petr Samoilenko and Valentin Koubrakov are the only surviving members of that team.
Vojvodina also played last year in the Champions Cup, but did not make it out of the first round after a 4:6 record. Their 4 top scorers this year, Gurovic, Nenad Kanak, Kebu Stewart Predrag Suput are all new signings.
There will be interesting match-ups all over the court between these 2 sides, but the front court could well be decisive. Vojvodina’s scoring punch comes from the 2 forward postitions where Gurovic and Canak average 37ppg between them. They will have to match up with Kazan’s equally strong and versatile trio of Saulius Stombergas, Martin Müürsepp and Chris Anstey.
In the middle, Kebu Stewart has been a key peformer for Vojvodina averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds in his 3 games. At 203 cm he may have a tough time dealing with Kazan’s 216 cm Eurelijus Zukauskas, one of Europe’s most experienced centers.
Kazan is the second top rebounding team in the FEL, averaging 36.3 rebounds per game. Vojvodina on the other hand average just 28.9, fourth last, increasing the pressure on them to shoot well for the series.