Unics Kazan have been on a mission all season in the FIBA Europe League. Today it was “mission accomplished” and they overpowered Greek side Maroussi to win the first European trophy in the club’s history.
It was an awesome team performance from the Russians, who stifled Maroussi with their aggressive defense and shot the lights out from the perimeter, nailing 6 of their first 8 three-pointers. Top of the pile was Martin Müürsepp, who made all four of his 3-point attempts, scored 22 points and was elected game MVP.
“Müürsepp and Stombergas played very well again and it is difficult for any team to play against us when we are on form like today.”
UNICS have outmatched teams all season long with a powerful first quarter salvo. Today was no different as Müürsepp and Stombergas began the game on fire, combining for 16 of Unics 30 opening quarter points. At first, Maroussi matched the Russians almost point-for-point. At the midway point of the quarter, the score was 18:16 and it seemed as if Maroussi would not lay down and capitulate.
However, the pace of the game proved too hot and Unics closed the first period with a 12:0 run and a 14-point lead, 30:16.
Maroussi tried to establish their inside game in the second period through center Ivan Grgat. He scored 2 opening baskets, but Unics’ interior defense was making it difficult for them to go inside. Müürsepp had a dunk and then hit consecutive 3-pointers and his energy kept Unics firing on all cylinders.
There was, however, some hope for Maroussi. George Karagoutis made a lay-up at the buzzer and they trailed 46:34 at halftime.
The second half proved to be really no different from the first. Kazan maintained a double-digit lead throughout and Maroussi never threatened to stage a comeback rally. The only black point for the home team was that Müürsepp fouled out early in the 4th quarter, but Unics had enough firepower to ensure that the game’s final result was never in doubt.
The final boxscore was indicative of the game. Unics shot 58% from the floor (11/21 three-pointers). They outrebounded Maroussi 37-24 and dished out 24 assists to Maroussi’s 11.
|Unics celebrate their win|
As well as Müürsepp, Stombergas had 15 points, Valentin Koubrakov 12 and Aleksey Zouzouline came off the bench to score 10 points in 10 minutes.
Coach Panagiotis Yiannakis was circumspect in defeat.
“Unics played very well today,” he said. “We didn’t do things correctly and had no concentration and you can’t play against such a team if you do not concentrate.”
Yianankis also refused to take the easy way out and blame the referees, saying:
“The referees are part of the game, whether they make mistakes or not. The players are the ones who are the stars and they are the ones we should look at.”
Panagiotis Yiannakis, Head Coach, Maroussi:
“Unics played very well today. We didn’t do things correctly and were not concentrated. You can’t play against such a team if you do not concentrate. With such a low shooting percentage we could not expect to win and we lost confidence. They also outrebounded us and were better.”
“I’m very proud of my players because we tried to face such a strong team. Next time we will be less nervous. Congratulations to Unics. They have been trying for many years to get this far. We started this year and I’m proud of my team for getting this far.”
Stanislav Eremine, Head Coach, Unics Kazan:
“The score today does not reflect the difference between the 2 sides. Maroussi has been playing very well this season and deserved to be here. They are a strong team with character and showed this yesterday when they closed the gap against Tel Aviv.”
“Today was our day and our game. Stombergas and Müürsepp played very well again. It would be difficult for any team to play us when we are on form like today.”
“We had good balance offensively and defensively and we were able to learn from our mistakes on Thursday.”
“I’m very happy with our rebounding at both ends of the court. We had a great team effort and played together.”