Ejim Stuns Nizhny, UNICS Takes Series Lead

Ejim Stuns Nizhny, UNICS Takes Series Lead

UNICS Kazan defeated Nizhny Novgorod in overtime on the road in Game 3, 95-94 (19-21, 23-21, 20-22, 23-21, 10-9).

Top Scorers
Nizhny Novgorod: Stevan Jelovac (21 + 8 reb), Petr Gubanov (20 + 7 reb), Ivan Strebkov (16 + 5 ast), Jake Odum (13 + 8 ast)

UNICS: Melvin Ejim (21 + 9 reb), Jamar Smith (20), Maurice Ndour (18 + 6 reb), Stephane Lasme (12)

Kazan escaped Nizhny Novgorod with a sensational 95-94 win in overtime, courtesy of Melvin Ejim’s turnaround jumper at the buzzer. Ivan Strebkov had put the home team on top seconds earlier via the free-throw line, but Ejim would not be denied, swooping in to grab the rebound on a Jamar Smith miss before tossing in the game-winner. 

The game featured 20 lead changes and 11 ties, and plenty of clutch plays from both teams. Ivan Strebkov was very nearly the hero for Nizhny Novgorod, scoring on a layup to force overtime and hitting the go-ahead free throws with seven seconds remaining in the extra period. 

But Ejim, who missed a chance to win it in regulation, did not waste a second opportunity. His turnaround jumper hit the front of the rim, before bouncing straight and falling straight through the net as time expired. 

The victory puts Kazan in the driver’s seat, 2-1 in the series with Games 4 and 5 to be played in Kazan. Nizhny Novgorod will need to dig deep to find a way to the Final Four after today’s heartbreaking overtime defeat. 

20 – number of lead changes, including five in the overtime period. Nobody wanted to lose the game, or concede control of the series. 

Nizhny Novgorod head coach Zoran Lukic:
– It’s hard to lose when the outcome of the game is decided on a video replay. Our team is completely drained. I think we were more than worthy opponents. The only thing left to do is to congratulate UNICS. The series is not over yet. We’re going to Kazan. During the time remaining before the next game, we’ll try to get the team to shake the disappointment we feel now and continue to compete. 

UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis:
– This was an exciting game for the fans and absolutely brutal for both teams. Congratulations to my players. We managed to take a 2-1 series lead and return to Kazan. There we await one more tricky meeting with Nizhny Novgorod. As I’ve already said many times, every game against them is a trial. I understand perfectly well how my colleague Zoran Lukic feels right now. But luck, especially luck at the right time, is a very big deal in sports. It’s hard to say what’s more important right now: recovering physically or emotionally. On the one hand, you need to stay in shape during a difficult series. On the other hand, the mental aspect is also important. Right now you’re playing on enthusiasm, but tomorrow you might run out of inner strength for the game. In any case, we’ll try to relax some over the next three days.


Game 4
Thursday, May 31 at 8:00 PM (8:00 MSK) in Kazan

Images of the Game

28/05/2018 Nizhny Novgorod 94:95